Aspen, CO Fire, Aug 1895



A Drop of Fluid Fell on an Electric Motor and Was Ignited --- Circumstances as Related by the Victim --- His Hands Were Severely Burned.

From Friday's Daily.
Aspen narrowly escaped a serious conflagration at about 9:30 yesterday morning and a new way of igniting gasoline was discovered by E. L. PEISAR who runs a jewelry store on Hyman avenue, near Galena street. When the fire alarm sounded the entire store room was ablaze as a result of a few drops of the fluid falling upon a small electric moter[sic]. A few seconds previously FRANK HAYS, who runs a cigar store near by, fired three or four shots to alarm the citizens and at the same time PEISAR was seen to rush into the street carrying a gallon fruit can filled with burning gasoline and yelling fire at the top of his voice. The excitement was intense for a few minutes and when the firemen reached the vicinity there was a jam of people, all of whom recognized that a serious fire in that block meant total destruction of much property. Before the fire company got upon the scene citizens had subdued the flames in the store by various methods and the only damage resulting was the scorching of the woodwork and blistering of the varnish on counters and show cases. It was thought by the unfortunate victim of the disaster that $25 would repair all damage to the room. His personal injuries were somewhat serious, but himself and merchants lost no time in congratulating themselves that the accident did no more harm. No one doubted that PEISOR'S presence of mind and nerve which enabled him to carry out the burning jar of gasoline quickly was the saving clause of the disaster.
MR. PEISAR, who is an experienced jeweler, explained it as follows: “I was cleaning a watch in the jar of gasoline which stood on the workbench. Under that arrangement is the small electric moter [sic] which I use to propel my lathes and other small machinery for engraving, manufacturing and repairing. I had a few days ago extended the workbench and in the top of the extension was left a round hole about three-quarters of an inch in diameter. This hole was directly over the electric moter[sic] and through the aperture the gasoline, some of which was incidentally spilled on the board, evidently dropped. The store door was only slighly [sic] ajar and the atmosphere in the room could not have contained much of the gasoline fumes. But there was enough in the air to ignite the second a drop struck the moter[sic]. In an instant the entire room filled with fire. The blaze was all over the show cases and woodwork as quick as I had time to turn and notice it. Then the jar was a solid column of fire. I did not put the 'stopper' in it. Had I done this it would have exploded. I saw quickly that salvation of the place lay only in carrying out the jar and I did so, passing around the counter to carry this resolution into effect. As quick as I got out I yelled fire and it was not long before it was all extinguished by the men who came in, who smothered it with various non-combustible articles.”
PEISAR'S hands were so severely burned that it will be a week before he can use them. They were dressed by DR. MOLLIN as soon as possible, but he was suffering intense pain from the injuries throughout the afternoon and evening. His eyebrows and hair were also very much scorched, but fortunately his eyesight escaped.

Aspen Weekly Times Colorado 1895-08-17