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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 Years Ago in Spokane: Teen’s fireworks burns Holmes Elementary; heavyweight fight news to be relayed by megaphone on newspaper’s balcony

UPDATED: Mon., July 1, 2019

A teen’s fireworks burned the roof of the Holmes School, causing about $20,000 in damage. The fire was started when a “paper toy balloon” lighted on the shingled roof. (S-R archives)
A teen’s fireworks burned the roof of the Holmes School, causing about $20,000 in damage. The fire was started when a “paper toy balloon” lighted on the shingled roof. (S-R archives)

A fire consumed the roof of the Holmes School, burning through to the second floor and causing about $20,000 in damage.

The fire was started when a “paper toy balloon” lighted on the shingled roof. It was described as a kind of Fourth of July fireworks device, in which flaming paper is borne aloft. It was launched by a 16-year-old boy in the neighborhood – his third flaming paper balloon of the day – and he and his pals were unaware that it had landed on the school’s roof. They just saw it soar over a tree and disappear.

Repairs had already begun, using funds from the school district’s “sinking fund.” Officials expressed confidence that the damage could be repaired over the summer, but they were still assessing the extent.

The boy was not charged with any crime, because there was “no law against toy balloons or fireworks of that kind.”

From the boxing beat: The heavyweight fight between Jack Dempsey and Jess Willard would be “megaphoned” to avid crowds in downtown Spokane.

The Associated Press was planning to send a live punch-by-punch account of the fight by wire. A Spokane Daily Chronicle man would stand on the balcony of the Chronicle building and shout the news via megaphone to the fans on the street.

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