Chehalis, WA Restaurant Fire, May 1907


Restaurant Burns, Damaging Store and Causing Loss of Costumes to Theatrical Company - Actress, Victim of San Francisco Earthquake, Faints From Shock.

CHEHALIS, May 3. - Rita Strahm, aged about 5 years, and Goldie Strahm, aged about 2 years, were suffocated in a noonday fire in Chehalis yesterday and died soon after their bodies had been carried from the burning building by the firemen. A third child, Glady [sic] Strahm, aged 3 years, was resuscitated only after the hardest kind of work by the attending physicians.

The fire started in the upper portion of the Idaho restaurant, which was conducted by the mother of the children, Mrs. Ella Strahm. The little ones were playing up there. A neighbor living across the alley gave the alarm. John West, a grocer, and Mrs. Strahm rushed upstairs to rescue the children, but were driven back by the roaring flames. Despite the danger, it was difficult for Mr. West to prevent the grief-stricken mother from rushing into the fire after her little ones.

Children Found Under the Beds.

The Idaho is in the same block as is the city firehouse, and inside of ten minutes after the alarm was truned in four streams of water were in play. By deluging the room with water the fire was sufficiently checked to make it possible for the firemn [sic] to enter in search of the children. A. G. Henderson and Harvey Gates found two of the children Rita and Goldie, under a bed, where they had crept for safety, and soon afterward F. Moddof and Norton Wynn rescued Gladys from under a bed in the front room, the first two being in the second room from the front of the building.

Heavy Property Loss.

The property loss was confined to about $8,000, where it might have run into many thousands more had it once been permitted to spread to the adjoining frame buildings in the block. The loss to Mr. West on his buildings will be about $2,500 with $500 insurance. He lost about $3,500 on his stock, on which the insurance is $1,000. Mrs. Strahm's loss is about $1,000, with $500 insurance. The dressing rooms of the Grand opera house were over Mr. West's store, and the Clifford Comedy company, which was playing here, lost most of its effects. This loss falls most heavily on Miss Isma Clifford, whose loss of the company's wardrobe was about $600 and that of members of the company another $150. Miss Clifford was a victim of the San Francisco earthquake and fire, and the shock of yesterday's fire caused her to collapse so completely with a nervous breakdown that for a time her life was despaired of. She was reported better last evening.

Mrs. A. W. Brown of this city, sister-in-law of Mrs. Strahm, left yesterday evening upon receiving word of the dreadful occurrence, to be with the afflicted mother.

The Olympia Daily Recorder, Olympia, WA 3 May 1907