On this date in 1909, the Devils Lake Inter-Ocean reported on a devastating fire. It started in the kitchen of the Routier Restaurant early in the morning.
The fire department responded, but the fire spread quickly. The firefighters were hampered by the weather as severe cold froze fire hoses and fingers, while a strong wind fanned the flames.
In spite of the efforts of the firemen, the fire spread to other buildings. Three business blocks of Devils Lake were destroyed. The restaurant building was a total loss, with only a few beams left standing. The furnishings and fixtures were all lost. Fortunately, the owners of the carried insurance.
The Hurst Brothers Grocery was also a total loss. The store had just been re- stocked. The store owners carried some insurance, but suffered a loss of $1,000. The building owner was covered for most of the property value.
Other business owners were not as fortunate. The millinery shop belonging to Maud Mead was nearly a total loss. She was able to salvage some of her stock, but most of her hats were destroyed. She was in the process of closing her store, so she had decided not to take on the expense of insurance. The owner of the building carried some insurance, but suffered a loss of $800.
The pool hall owned by John Schultz suffered smoke and water damage. It looked for a time that the building would go up in flames, but firefighters were able to save it. It was scorched, but standing.
The White and Henderson Clothing Store and the offices above it had a close call. The building caught fire several times, but each time the firemen were able to extinguish the flames, preventing the fire from spreading.
The cause of the fire was traced to a defective stovepipe on the kitchen range of the restaurant. The total loss from the fire was estimated to be $10,000. The fire department was credited with containing the damage. The newspaper was confident that the rebuilding would begin shortly.
Dakota Datebook written by Carole Butcher
Devils Lake Inter-Ocean. “Fire Wipes Out Three Business Blocks.” 8 January 1909. Page 1.