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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in Spokane: Camping in pine thicket sparks unfortunate results

A group of boys accidentally set fire to the thicket in which they were camped. (Spokesman-Review archives)
A group of boys accidentally set fire to the thicket in which they were camped. (Spokesman-Review archives)

A group of small boys made a “camp” in the pine thickets near their neighborhood around Driscoll Boulevard and Greenwood Street.

In order to make their camp realistic, they decided to build a campfire.

Unfortunately, a swift wind was blowing. Sparks flew, igniting two separate brush fires. Nearby residents arrived with shovels and wet sacks, and the fire department soon arrived with hoses.

A deputy also showed up, but decided not to cite the boys for the fire because “they were valiantly fighting its advance.”

The fire was extinguished before it reached any homes.

From the court beat: Both sides were preparing for a “bitter fight” in the second-degree murder trial of Dr. Mary Swartz, a midwife accused of causing the death of Fay Hamilton, 17, a year earlier.

Dr. Swartz was accused of performing an “illegal operation,” i.e., an abortion, which resulted in the girl’s death.

On the first day of the trial, Dr. Swartz’s defense attorneys made “strenuous efforts to have the murder charge dismissed,” or at least to have the charge reduced to manslaughter.

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