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Mail Tribune 100, Feb. 12, 1921

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

Feb. 12, 1921

32 AUTOMOBILES BURNED IN FIRE W. SIDE STABLES

Medford had another destructive night fire last night when the West Side barns, the two-story brick structure on South Grape street, the former livery stable used for several years past as an auto storage warehouse, was practically destroyed by flames, and its contents comprising 28 cars belonging to the A. W. Walker Automobile company, mostly used cars, almost a carload of cylinder oil, and four private cars were either burned or partially burned.

Mr. Walker’s loss is estimated at $20,000, covered by insurance, and the loss on the building, which is owned by the Thomas estate, is estimated at $5,000, partially covered by insurance. The private cars burned were a Ford of Harry Cutlack, no insurance; the Ford and Chevrolet of George Maple, salesman of the Walker company, no insurance; the Mitchell of Lloyd Elwood, partially insured; and the Maxwell of John Mace of Griffin creek, probably not insured.

The origin of the fire is unknown, but it is thought that it was caused by sparks from the big heater in the rear of the structure connecting in some manner with the carload of cylinder oil, property of the Walker company, which was stored not over 12 feet from the stove. There had been a fire in the stove yesterday afternoon.

The fire was discovered when it was centered in the oil drums and barrels, a 8:15 o’clock. The alarm was at once sent in and the department responded promptly, but before the firemen arrived men had broken down the front doors and succeeded in running out a half dozen cars.

The flames spread rapidly and the firemen on arrival found a stubborn fight ahead of them. A large crowd gathered and the fire was spectacular for an hour or more as the flames shot thru the roof. The interior of the building, which is 50 feet wide by about 80 feet depth, with a frame shed in the rear about 50 by 20 feet, was practically gutted by the flames and the roof was destroyed.

... Late last night and during today (there was) praise for Medford’s fire department and Chief Lawton for their hard and valiant work together with judgment used, in confining the flames to the burning structure. Its location in the business district surrounded closely with buildings made the fire a dangerous one. The firemen used 2,000 feet of 2 1/2 inch hose, and had four streams from four nozzles playing on the flames, in addition to using 35 gallons of chemicals...

“While the loss of $20,000 is covered by insurance the amount of insurance will not begin to cover the full amount of the loss,” said A. W. Walker this forenoon. “I figure that the fire must have started from the heater in some way. Maybe the stove pipe came apart and allowed sparks to fall in the oil. The firemen did wonderful work in holding the fire inside the building. Everybody should take off their hats to them. Medford can well feel proud of their small department. What they lack in equipment to fight fire with they make up in hard work, skill and judgment.”

— Alissa Corman;acorman@rosebudmedia.com

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