Minneapolis, MN lumber fire, Jul 1894


A Destructive Fire in Minneapolis - Loss Fully $300,000.

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn., July 30. - Twenty acres of lumber piles, containing about 25,000,000 feet of lumber belonging to the Shevlin-Carpenter Lumber Company, situated on the west bank of the river within a quarter of a mile of the centre of the city, were destroyed by fire this afternoon, causing a loss of fully $300,000.

In addition to this the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis and Omaha Railroad roundhouse was burned, together with twenty-one freight cars and the valuable Pintsch gas plant.

Carelessness on the part of the engineer and fireman of an Omaha switch engine, who neglected to close the dampers of their engine while passing the yards, is supposed to have been the cause of the fire.

Long before the firemen had arrived the fire was beyond control. A general alarm was sounded, but even then the fire could not be controlled. St. Paul sent two engines and crews, and Stillwater started and equal number, but had to recall them, owing to the breaking out of a fire at that place. The lumberyard was doomed before a stream of water had been turned upon it, and all the firemen could do was to seek to confine it to the district in which it originated.

To the west of the yards stood the Star Elevator, containing 1,500,000 bushels of wheat, and a row of warehouses extending for several bocks. Between these storage houses and the burning yards were the Omaha yards filled with cars, while directly south and east were the Omaha roundhouses and gas plant. Eleven engines were standing in the roundhouse, but they were taken out in safety.

While the firemen turned streams of water on the long lines of cars in the yards, engines were coupled to them, and all but about twenty, including some loaded oil-tank cars, were hauled away.

The flames then reached the roundhouse and in a moment or two this was all flames. The Pintsch gas plant, where the illuminating gas for the Omaha trains is generated, stood next to the roundhouse. This soon blew up with a detonation which could be heard all over the city, scattering blazing brands for blocks around.

This closed the progress of the fire. It seemed as though the Shevlin-Carpenter Mill, which stood next to the river, would have to go, but it did not, although the flames reached within forty feet of it.

Blazing brands had in the meantime been falling all around the Star Elevator, which took fire in several places. Happily it was practically uninjured by the fire. Numerous fires were also started in different parts of the city, but in every case they were extinguished in short order.

The principal losses are as follows: Shevlin-Carpenter Lumber Company, loss on lumber in yards, $300,000, fully insured; Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis and Omaha Railroad, loss on roundhouse, $7,000; gas plant, $15,000; twenty-one freight cars, $12,000.

The New York Times, New York, NY 31 Jul 1894