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Mail Tribune 100, Jan. 5, 1921

The following news items were drawn from the archives of the Mail Tribune 100 years ago.

Jan. 5, 1921


Praise for Chief Lawton and the Medford fire department for the way in which they handled the fire in the Liberty building last Sunday night was given by H. H. Pomeroy of Portland, chief deputy fire marshal of the state, this noon at the conclusion of his investigation.

As to the origin of the fire Mr. Pomeroy and Chief Lawton are of the belief that it was due to defective wiring in the basement.

“There was an absence of oily rags, waste or matter of the kind,” said the deputy fire marshal, “in which spontaneous combustion could have started. The housekeeping of the basement was good as basements go. There were no piles of rubbish of other refuse so often found in basements of business buildings.

“Chief Lawton used excellent judgment in his method of fighting the fire and your small department did very fine work. In fact, had the department been very much larger they could not have handled that fire any better.

“This is all the more remarkable in that there is nothing so difficult to handle as a basement fire, and your department was greatly deficient in suitable equipment to fight the fire of that kind. I understand the major part of this basement fire equipment was authorized by the city council and ordered some time ago, and will soon be here. Any experienced fire fighter must take off his hat to your chief and department for the splendid work of Sunday night.”

It developed today that the city council will soon meet with Chief Lawton to take up the matter of getting further equipment, such as new gas masks, both for the regular firemen and for outside assistants, and portable lights to illuminate a dark, smoke laden basement.

The matter will also be taken up with owners of business buildings with basements, of cutting holes thru the first floor of such building, and covering them with metal covers, so that when a fire occurs in a basement, valuable time can be saved to the firemen. Instead of having to chop holes thru the first floor to get at the fire, they could just lift the covers and set the fire-fighting basement pipe apparatus through a hole into the basement.

— Alissa Corman;acorman@rosebudmedia.com

News from 100 years ago