Boise, ID Odd Fellows Block Basement Fire, Oct 1899


Another of the best business blocks of the city was threatened with destruction from a basement fire. It was the Odd Fellow block. A fire was started in some unknown manner in the basement under the Galbraith drug store. The basement was stored with chemicals and had the blaze gained enough headway to have set them off it would have been extremely difficult to save the building. The damage is estimated of [illegible] fully insured.

The fire was discovered by Henry Hart a clerk in the drug store, who was just going down into the basement. He ran back and gave the alarm and the chemical engine was sent for.

The fire was about 25 or 30 feet from the front of the basement, and the supply of chemicals was used up without putting it out. The basement was filled with smoke so dense that it was impossible for any of the firemen to remain below longer than a few seconds at a time.

When the chemical had exhausted its supply an alarm was sent to the Central station and the steamer responded. In a few minutes there were three streams thrown into the basement, which was soon flooded, extinguishing the fire.

The origin of the fire is not positively known. Mr. Galbraith says he kept three to five gallons of gasoline in the basement. It is his theory that the gasoline became heated in some manner, possibly from the hot water pipes, and that a gas was generated which exploded.

Henry Hart says he started into the basement from the rear of the store. He went down a few steps and saw the blaze. It seemed to him as though the entire basement was on fire. Almost instantly the blaze died down and the basement filled with smoke. The blaze he saw was more like a flash than a steady fire.

The firemen worked with greatest difficulty. Not being supplied with smoke protectors, which they should have had long ago, they worked as best they could with wet sponges in their mouths. This fire again demonstrated the necessity of a cellar pipe, which can be operated from the outside in case of a fire like that of yesterday or the [illegible] block fire.

Idaho Daily Statesman, Boise City, ID 5 Oct 1899


During the fire yesterday Mr. Hart was severely burned on his arm and Max Sergeant had his hand badly cut by glass.

Idaho Daily Statesman, Boise City, ID 6 Oct 1899