Bismarck, ND State Capitol Fire, Dec 1930

Capitol Before the Fire Capitol on Fire

CAPITOL BUILDING AT BISMARCK, N. DAKOTA, BURNED TO THE GROUND.

FIRE STARTS IN STATE ENGINEER'S OFFICE; FLAMES RACING THROUGH STRUCTURE WHEN FIREMEN ARRIVE.

LOSS OF STATE PAPERS AND DOCUMENTS SO GREAT, CALL ISSUED FOR LEGISLATURE TO MEET AT ONCE.

INSURANCE POLICIES ON BUILDING TOTAL $600,000; LOSS ESTIMATE AT FEW THOUSAND DOLLARS MORE.

Bismarck, N. D., Dec. 28. -- North Dakots's state capitol building burned to the ground today.
Resultant loss of state papers and documents was so great that GOV. GEORGE F. SHAFER issued an emergency call for the legislature to convene immediately. He said he hoped the lawmakers could establish some sort of order from the seared records in order that they might proceed with regular business when they convene formally on January 6.
The fire started in the state engineer's office on the top floor of the historic four-story red brick building at 7 a.m. By the time firemen arrived an hour later the flames were racing through the whole structure, even through the two wings added several years after the central building was constructed in 1884.
Governor SHAFER, aroused by the crimsoned sky, hurried from the nearby executive mansion, rushed into the flaring building, and aided firemen in saving what state documents they could.
The flames were so hot, however, that the governor and the fire-fighters were driven back by walls of fire before they could save more than a small portion of the records, files and valuable documents of state.
Firemen still were pumping water on the smouldering embers tonight in an effort to cool the wreckage. They hoped to be able to remove a large steel vault, crammed with the most valuable of the state's papers. The vault was of antiquated construction, however, and it was feared its contents would be scorched beyond recognition.
Insurance policies on the capitol totalled $600,000. The loss was estimated at a few thousand dollars more.
Gov. SHAFER said the legislature and the various state offices would be quartered temporarily in Bismarck hotels and office buildings and that the capitol likely would be rebuilt immediately.

Winnipeg Free Press Manitoba 1930-12-29