Chicago, IL Book Store Fire, Feb 1899

Chicago Fire

A.C. McClurg & Co.’s Book Establishment Threatened With Destruction.

Chicago, Feb. 12.- The wholesale and retail book establishment of A.C. McClure & Co. is threatened with total destruction by a fire which broke out at 1 o’clock this morning and which spread rapidly through the 5-story brick structure at the northwest corner of Wabash avenue and Madison street, occupied by the firm. The stock is probably the largest of the kind in the country and the financial loss will probably aggregate $500,000. Further than this, however, is the threatened loss to the stock of rare old books and manuscripts which is one of the largest of the kind outside the great libraries and includes volumes which cannot be replaced. Every effort is being centered in saving this portion of the stock, which at this time happens to include a large consignment of rare books from Europe which arrive Saturday, consigned to public and private libraries.

The total loss will be about $750,000 as follows: McClurg building , $100,000; McClurg stock, $470,000; Mandel Bros. dry goods stock, across the alley, $5,000, by smoke and water.

The fire was started by an explosion of gas on the third floor and spread with amazing rapidity. The firemen from the first had no hope of saving the building and directed their efforts to preventing the flames from spreading. Considerable difficulty was experienced by them on account of the low water pressure, many of the hydrants being partly frozen up. Many of the firemen were severely frostbitten.

About two hours after the fire started the Medison (sic) street wall fell out, tons of red hot bricks crashing into the street and breaking many large plate glass window on the opposite side. Several firemen had narrow escapes.

Idaho Daily Statesman, Boise City, ID 12 Feb 1899