The Cedarburg Fire Department suffered its greatest lost to date
in the early morning of Tuesday, April 2, 1907. This article
from the Cedarburg News on Wednesday, April 3, 1907 best
describes the events that occurred the day before.
A Disastrous Blaze!
Fire Totally Destroys Engine House And All Apparatus,
School, and Hotel Building.
At 2 o’clock on Tuesday morning, our citizens were aroused from
their slumbers by the blowing of the fire whistles, sounding the
alarm of fire, that was discovered in the basement of the city
fire engine house, by Chas. Rilling of Grafton who happened to
pass by at the above named time. When people arrived, the
interior of the building was a mass of flames, and upon opening
the doors the smoke and fire came shooting out, making it
impossible to save anything within the building. The building
was of brick, and converted into an engine house on the lower
floor, and a school room on the upper floor for the sixth and
seventh grade, was soon a burning mass. In it were the steamer,
the old hand engine, hook and ladder wagon, several hose wagons,
hose and everything belonging to a first class fire apparatus
outfit, such as this city really possessed.
Adjoining the engine house was the Cedarburg House, owned
by Mrs. M. Kuether, and occupied by Nic Schuh. This structure
which was of stone and one of the oldest in the city, was soon
on fire and all efforts to control the flames were without
success. However, before the building caught fire the greatest
portion of the household goods were carried out to a place of
safety with the assistance of friends and neighbors. The big
barn in the rear of the building was next consumed, and the
flames fanned by wind spread rapidly.
During all this time, with a high wind blowing, our firemen and
citizens were left powerless to stay the flames, and all that
could be done was with the aid of buckets to keep the roofs of
the buildings wet to check the burning cinders from setting
other buildings on fire. In the mean time help arrived that had
been telegraphed for, to the adjoining villages and also to
Milwaukee. The Grafton Fire Department arrived first with their
hook and ladder wagon and hose, which was of great aid and help
to reach the top of the buildings. Thiensville came a short time
after with its engine, and soon the fire was under control. Word
was sent to Milwaukee to that effect, reaching there just as an
engine had been loaded on a flat car, and its firemen, were
ready to start for Cedarburg. The entire loss on the buildings
and contents is estimated to be about $15,000. The engine house,
fire apparatus, and contents of the school room, were insured
for $5,800; while Mrs. Kuether only carried an insurance of
$1,800 on her buildings. Both buildings will be re-built.
Here is a picture before the fire of the firehouse
and Kuether Hotel. (CFD Collection)
the remains of the firehouse and Kuether Hotel after the
fire. (CFD Collection)
The blaze turned the Cedarburg Fire Department upside down. All
of the equipment was destroyed and had to be replaced. The fire
could have been much worse had the efforts of neighboring
departments and citizens not come. The toll on a member of
Thiensville was great. Mr. Mass heard of the blaze and rushed to
the Thiensville firehouse to hitch up his draft horses to the
engine. He drove his team hard to the fire in Cedarburg and upon
arriving on scene the horses dropped over dead from exhaustion.
This is probably one of the first times that the Cedarburg,
Grafton, and Thiensville Fire Departments worked together on a
Little remains of the old firehouse. The top of the flagpole was
found and saved, it is in a display case at Station along with,
a piece of brass from the engine and some glass. Amazingly, the
fire department meeting minutes survived the fire, preserving
the a great deal of this department’s history. It has long been
a legend of the Cedarburg Fire Department that the bell that
sits out front of Station 1 now, was salvaged from this fire.
|Here is an image from the
front of the burnt firehouse. The remains of the Ahrens
Steam Engine "Michael Colbert" can be seen through the
door on the right. This is the only image of this piece
of equipment. (CFD Collection)
Also, a poem was written of the fire by Francis McGovern, Evelyn
Pfeiffer, and students of the public school that were around 10
One night when the people were sleeping,
A dreadful fire
The flames were swiftly creeping,
And soon an
alarm was heard.
The people were roused from their slumbers deep,
rushed out to see
What had startled them out of their sleep,
And what the matter could be.
They found a serious fire
Had in the engine-house started;
The flames rose higher and higher,
And the walls were in
Soon the flames began to creep,
To the home of Nicholas
The family out of their beds did leap,
For they did
not know what to do.
The fire could not be controlled,
Until both buildings about
burned to the ground;
But soon help from Grafton into the
For they our great need had found.
As the flames could not be extinguished,
Both buildings at
last burned to the ground,
And, for the scholars who are so
No school building could be found.
And now the walls are standing,
Like ruined castles of old,
And peoples’ mouths are expanding,
As this wonderful story is
While the entry of this fire into the official minutes book
appears to have been written with a little more emotion then
most other entries, the members dusted themselves off and began
the business of rebuilding the Cedarburg Fire Department.
Ahrens Steam Pumper "Michael Colbert"
Hand Pulled, Hand Pumper "Metamora No. 2"
Numerous Hose Carts