October 14, 1908

LOSS $125,000.

Origin of Fire is Not Know -- Rest of
City Is Saved by Inhabitants
Carrying Water From
the River.

The frantic honking of an automobile driven by 17-year-old Robert Waters, accompanied by his shouts of "fire" awakened the people of Bonner Springs to an appreciation of the fact that flames were eating away the business section of that city early yesterday morning.

The blaze, due, it is thought, to spontaneous combustion in the rear of the Kelley & Pettit drug store on Oak street, was first noticed by Isaac Milstead, a laborer. Backed by a mighty northern wind that carried a rain of sparks to the roofs of neighboring buildings, it spread rapidly and soon two entire business blocks were involved.

It was at this moment that the Waters boy heard the cries of Milstead and alarmed the town. In twenty minutes perhaps a thousand men, women, and children, in the absence of any fire-fighting facilities, were carrying buckets of water from the Kaw river to Oak street.

Many of the impromptu fire fighters were only partially dressed, and the morning air was sharp. The first attempt to get outside aid was made at 4:45 o'clock, a half hour after the blaze was noticed. Then the workmen of the Bonner Portland Cement Company's plant, situated four miles from the city on the electric line, were notified to board special street cars furnished for them and come with all haste.


The idea was then to blow up some of the houses ahead of the fire or tear them down so as to keep it within the section it had already claimed. An attempt to blow up the Kuhn building, near Second street, was given over, as the flames beat the workmen there, so Kansas City, Kas., was telephoned for fire apparatus and all the companies it could spare.

Meanwhile men and women had organized a system in their maneuvers. The banks of the Kaw are steep at this point. Certain men were detailed to be dippers at the margin, while others handed the laden buckets to each other until they could be grasped and carried away. It was a lively scene and the energy displayed had a decided effect.

When, after repeated delays, No. 1 fire company from Kansas City, Kas, arrived on a special train, heroic treatment had done its work and only a smouldering three blocks of business houses were left on which to play the hose.

The loss in yesterday's fire is variously estimated by the local insurance agents. The best authorities place it at between $100,000 and $125,000. The insurance amounted to a little over $61,000 in all eleven companies.


The buildings lost in the fire were: B. L. Swofford's dry goods store, loss $15,000, insurance $6,500; Waters & Frisbee building, loss $7,000, insurance $4,000; Walwer & Kirby stock, loss $300; Farmers' State bank, loss $300.

Dr. E. P. Skaggs, dentist: loss, $1,500; insurance, $500.
Knights of Pythias lodge: loss $200.
L. G. Frisbie, frame building: loss $2,000.
Hall & Fletcher, meat market: loss $1,500.
Edwin Page, pool hall: loss $1,000; insurance $200.
John Klem, frame building: loss $900.
Opera House block, Brant Adams, Olathe, Kas., owner: loss on building, $6,000, on contents not known.
Baxter & Kay Grocery Company, loss $2,000; insurance $1,500.
Mrs. Lia Dunn, restaurant: loss $700.
Kelley & Pruitt, hardware and drugs: loss $7,500; insurance $3,500.