Knights Landing, CA River Farms Barn Fire, Aug 1924

15 CREMATED 40 TRAPPED IN BARN FIRE

Notorious I. W. W. Rendezvous at Knights Landing Destroyed; Men Perish Behind Barricaded Doors.

Two Charred Skeletons Uncovered Already in Ruins; Workmen Fight to Confine Flames to One Building.

SPECIAL BY WIRE TO THE TRIBUNE

WOODLAND, Aug. 12.---Fifteen laborers are believed to have lost their lives when the River Farms barn, a land mark along the Sacramento river at Knights Landing, burned early today.

Between forty and fifty men were sleeping in the big barn which measured 600 feet by 125 feet in size, when the fire was discovered. Only nine or ten of them have reported.

SKELETONS OF TWO ALREADY FOUND.

The fire was discovered by Frank Prather, engineer at the pumping plant of the River Farms project situated across the Sacramento river from the barn, who looked out of the building of the pumping plant to see the roof of the barn a mass of flames.

The skeletons of two men have already been recovered and workmen are digging out the charred bales of hay with which the big barn was filled in a search for other corpses.

River Farms barn, situated on Sycamore slough, has been for years a rendezvous for idle men, I. W. W., tramps and hangers-on about the big 35,000 acre reclamation project of the River Farms. During the winter monthse[sic] it has housed as many as 200 men, sleeping quarters is at Knights Landing, eight miles from Woodland.

At this season of the year, according to Robert Geer, superintendent of the farms, the double doors of the big barn were kept padlocked, entrance and exit being through small doors in its sides. Many of these smaller doors were boarded up and the windows in the barn were high in its walls, making escape through them impossible.

When the fire was discovered the flames had too much headway to save the barn with the small equipment available on the farms and fire-fighters devoted their efforts to preventing the spread of the fire.

Oakland Tribune, Oakland, CA 12 Aug 1924