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Jim Kershner’s this day in history

Thu., July 24, 2014

From our archives, 100 years ago

Mrs. Williams, a lodging house proprietor, woke up to flames in her house in LaCrosse, in Whitman County. The fire was in a room occupied by two traveling salesmen who left on a train that night. They had apparently left a lighted candle in the room.

Mrs. Williams roused the other lodgers, who were barely able to stumble their way out of the burning house. She then spread the alarm.

By that time, the fire was too hot. It spread to other buildings in the LaCrosse business district. Before long, it had destroyed two entire blocks, which was most of the downtown area. The town had only a small volunteer fire department and “meager equipment.”

The destroyed buildings included the First State Bank of LaCrosse, the W.A. King Mercantile Co., a pool hall, a meat market, a drugstore, a barbershop, a blacksmith shop and a grocery store. The loss was estimated at $80,000.

It was the second big fire in two days in the region. A large part of Northport’s business district was destroyed the day before. 

The Spokane Daily Chronicle ran an editorial urging that Spokane’s able and experienced firemen be placed at the disposal – “for a day, a week or a fortnight” – of any town that is “ready to take warning from the fate of LaCrosse and Northport, and organize its forces now.”

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