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Farmersburg Fire, 1956


Posted By: Lynn Haakenson
Date: 5/18/2021 at 21:26:34

Fire Burns Palas Shop at Far'burg
Fire of unknown origin destroyed the Harley J. Palas implement building at Farmersburg early Tuesday morning, Jan. 17, causing an estimated loss of $100,000.

A shed of the Otto Fuelling Lumber company, next to the implement building, was partially destroyed, causing an estimated loss of $10,000.

The fire was first noticed by Keith Radloff, who woke up at 2:20 o'clock in the morning and noticed that the roof of the implement building was on fire. He aroused Mrs. Radloff who notified the telephone operator to put in the fire alarm. He lives about two blocks north of the implement building site.

Mr. Radloff hurried to the fire station and had the truck started by the time other firemen arrived at the station.

It was only a matter of minutes before the Farmersburg fire department had their equipment into action and fire fighters were pouring water on the flames. The shed of the lumber company had caught fire and they confined their efforts to it. A call was sent out to the St. Olaf, Elkader, and Monona fire departments for assistance, who all fought the fire from various points about the burning structures.

After pouring thousands of gallons of water onto the fire, the firemen brought the blaze under control within 2 1/2 hours. The Farmersburg firemen, however, were still pumping water on the fire scene at 8:30 o'clock Tuesday morning.

The cause of the fire is unknown, but according to firemen it apparently started on the west end of the building as the fire was concentrated heaviest there upon their arrival.

About 2 o'clock in the morning, Mr. and Mrs. William Kurdelmeyer drove past the building and noticed that the font windows were "steamed up," which evidently was smoke, but since the temperature was 6 above they didn't give it another thought.

"When I arrived at the shop, flames shot out of the side door across the alley to the Fuelling Lumber company shed, setting it afire," Mr. Palas stated.

During the course of the fire various small explosions took place when cans of anti-freeze became overheated and ignited. At the start of the fire, a Freon gas tank blew up and sent pieces of steel and other metal flying into the air for a distance of half a block.

A number of tractors, trucks, a combine, a dozen or more refrigerators and freezers, a large stock of parts and repair equipment were all burned.

The building was built seven years ago by Mr. Palas. It was in various sections. The shop was 50 X 66 feet, the paint room, 18 X 24 feet, the furnace room, 16 X 16 feet and the front office, parts and display section was 32 X 88 feet. The walls were of cement block, save the front which was of frame construction.

The fire of the Fuelling Lumber company shed occurred in the center and west end of it. The shed housed windows, doors, and other interior finishing lumber.

Street lights in Farmersburg went out with the start of the fire. An Interstate Power company repairman later restored light by hooking up a different transformer.

Hot coffee, cookies, and doughnuts were served by a group of women of Farmersburg to the firemen in the Fuelling Lumber company office.

The fire losses were partly covered by insurance.

~Monona Leader, Thursday, January 19, 1956

--- --- ---

Fire Causes Big Loss At Farmersburg
A charred ruin is all that remains of a modern Farmersburg implement establishment as a result of a fire during the early morning hours of Tuesday, Jan. 17. The implement building, owned by Harley Palas, of Farmersburg, along with a large stock of merchandise was totally destroyed. Palas estimates his loss at $100,000. It was partly covered by insurance.

An adjacent lumber shed, of the Fuelling Lumber company, was partly destroyed. Kenneth Fuelling, owner, estimated his loss at $8,000.

The fire was roaring through the roof of the implement building at 2:30 o'clock Tuesday morning when noticed by Keith Radloff. The fire departments of Farmersburg, St. Olaf, Elkader and Monona fought the blaze for about three hours to keep it from spreading through the Farmersburg business section. Farmersburg Fire Chief "Bing" Muller said five engines pumped water onto the blaze to finally bring it under control.

No reason could be given for the cause of the fire. Palas said he did not even know in which section of the big building the blaze started, because the whole thing seemed in flames when first noticed.

A number of tractors, trucks, a combine, a large stock of parts and a big inventory of home freezers and refrigerators were lost.

The building had been constructed by Palas less than 10 years ago.

~Clayton County Register, Thursday morning, January 19, 1956

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Fire Damage is $100,000
Farmersburg (UP) - Authorities said a fire which raced through an implement store and lumber warehouse early Tuesday did an estimated $100,000 damage before it was brought under control.

Fire Chief H.C. Muller said the Harley J. Palas implement store was destroyed and a warehouse of the Fuelling Lumber Company was badly damaged.

Firemen from Farmersburg, St. Olaf, Elkader and Monona fought the fire for 2 1/2 hours in 10-degree weather before bringing it under control. A nearby lumber yard was saved.

Muller said the alarm was turned in by Keith Radloff at 2:20 a.m. He was sleeping at his home nearby.

The implement store contained one tractor, refrigerators and other equipment, Muller said.

~Cedar Rapids Gazette, January 17, 1956


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