Oshkosh, WI Coffin and Chair Factory Fire, Jul 1885


The Factory of Buckstaff, Edwards & Co. Has a $2,000 Fire—Excellent Work of the Firemen Prevents a Large Fire.

At about half past nine this morning an alarm of fire was sounded which was caused by serious blaze in the dry house connected with the large coffin and chair factory of the firm of Buckstaff, Edwards & Co. After a stubborn fight on the part of the fire men the flames were extinguished, with a loss of about $2,000 or over. The origin of the fire appears to be unknown to the members of the firm or the employes{sic} as when first discovered the flames were working underneath the dry house and were spreading rapidly. The firemen were on the grounds in good season and did such excellent work that after something over an hour of hard labor they extinguished the flames, saving a portion of the hardwood lumber from damage, a portion of the building from any material injury, and preventing the spread of the fire to adjoining buildings and lumber piles. In a very short time after arriving at the scene of the fire six powerful streams of water were being poured into the building, five coming from neighboring hydrants, and one from the Doe steamer. The immense quantity of water used with good judgment, finally drowned out the fire, although owing to the extreme dryness of everything the flames spread rapidly whenever there was the slightest opportunity. The dry house which is a structure about 60 feet by 20, was completely filled with small cars loaded with hardwood lumber and as these were all on fire it was extremely difficult for the firemen to get at the seat of the blaze. As soon as it was possible these cars were pulled out and then the flames were quickly stopped.

Members of the firm estimate their loss at about $2,000 or over, upon which they have an insurance of $4,200 in the Traders of Chicago, placed with H. L. Lawson. The loss consists of 20,000 or 30,000 feet of select hardwood lumber, which is badly burned, partial destruction of the building and the damage to the steam heating pipes, hot air blast and ventilators. The firm, however, will not be seriously inconvenienced by the blaze, as they will make arrangements for using the dry house of J. P. Gould for the next few days and within a week or so they expect to have their own rebuilt. The manner in which the firemen worked today was especially praiseworthy, and caused strangers to remark that Oshkosh people are justified in claiming the finest fire department in the northwest for a city of this size. The men certainly worked like tigers, and among them was noticed Chief of Police Ragatz, who did the work of an able bodied fireman. The employes{sic} fo the factory turned out and rendered good service in keeping adjoining property wet down. The results of this blaze will give increased confidence in the waterworks, which furnished an immense supply of water with abundant pressure, and enabled the firemen to avert a blaze which, owing to the proximity of so much inflammable material, might have been a most disastrous conflagration.

Oshkosh Daily Northwestern, Oshkosh, WI 1 Jul 1885