Racine, WI insane asylum fire, Feb 1904


Asylum at Racine Destroyed, and Inmates Driven Out in Zero Weather.

Special to The New York Times.

RACINE, Wis., Feb. 10. - One hundred and twenty insane men and women from this county hospital are being brought into the city from the hospital to-night which destroyed the structure valued at $100,000, and drove the inmates into the open air with the temperatures below zero.

The attendants, as soon as the fire started, hastened to release the patients from their cells, and, though several escaped, all were secured and no lives were lost.

There were exciting times as the mad patients raved a sight of the flames, and it is feared that two women will die of exposure. The patients will be quartered at the Court House and City Hall until new quarters are secured.

The New York Times, New York, NY 20 Feb 1904

Inmates of Racine Institution Saved - Behaved In Some Instances Like Beasts.

RACINE, Wis., Feb. 20. - All that remains of the Racine county insane asylum is smouldering ashes, with a loss aggregating $115,000.

The stables, laundry and pump house were saved. All of the 133 patients escaped, the rescue in many cases being made with the greatest difficulty. The fire originated in the attic by a defective flue. The flames spread rapidly ad soon the entire main structure was enveloped in flames. The local fire department dispatched two full companies to the scene and one steamer and a hose wagon were also sent to the asylum, it being four miles from the city. The water supply was soon exhausted and the firemen could do little to check the flames and turned their attention towards the adjoining buildings.

The patients of the institution were finally corraled and brought to the city on a special train where they are being temporarily cared for at the city hall, police office and the court house. Merchants offered bedding and clothing liberally. Many of the patients were thinly clad and suffered much from the severe cold.

The fire started about 8:15 p. m. and was fought for nearly an hour before an alarm was sent to this city. By that time the blaze was beyond control. Meanwhile, the keeper and attendants fought heroically in rescuing the inmates, many of whom yelled and hooted like wild beasts and wanted to plunge back into the flames.

The loss is covered by about $35,000 insurance. Steps will be taken immediately to rebuild. The inmates for the present will be distributed around at the various asylums in the state and a large number will be taken to the state asylum at Oshkosh.

The Sunday News Tribune, Duluth, MN 21 Feb 1904