The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

Looking Back

July 23, 2014


100 Years Ago - July 23, 1914

Flames Sweep Part of Centerville’s Business Section

Again the fire fiend has visited Klickitat County, leaving behind the blackened walls and smoldering piles of destruction and ruin.

Last Sunday night about nine o’clock, word was received from Centerville, our neighboring city, that fire which was beyond control, was sweeping half the place before it. The flames shot upward, illuminating the sky so it could be seen for miles around.

Nearly one hundred men from Goldendale rode as fast as automobiles could carry them to the scene of the conflagration, to lend their assistance in subduing the flames wherever it was needed.

Centerville had no fire fighting apparatus, and a limited water system; therefore, water buckets were used to subdue the flames.

The buildings being of frame burned to the ground in a very short time, so that when help arrived from Goldendale, the burning buildings were beyond all aid and efforts were confined to saving adjacent property.

The fire started in the new motion picture theatre, in the operating room, where a film “exploded.” Motion picture films explode usually for sensational newspaper articles, but nevertheless the far cry of an exploded film is heralded as the primal cause. In any event, the cause was carelessness, on the part of the management, who should have provided a fire proof operating room, from which the fire could not have spread, and on the part of the operator, for the projection of the animated pictures is surprising free from danger if ordinary care had been maintained.

Fortunately, at the time of the fire, there were but thirty or forty persons in the theatre, so there was no serious accident from the stampede. The flames spread rapidly through the dry building, and other adjacent buildings took fire immediately.

Before the weary fire fighters had stemmed the progress of the flames the following places were consumed: H. A. Lund, movie theatre and store; J. E. Jussila, general merchandise store; Abshier & Niva, hardware store; planing mill and lumber yard of Roy McLeavy; Mr. Hayden, store; Matt Wiidanen, it was not reported what he lost; Mrs. M. E. Sturdevant, her house.

Most all of the Hayden stock of merchandise was carried out as the building seemed doomed. However, it did not burn although a deal of the stock and fixtures were damaged.

Abshire and Niva got out a little harness that was close to the door. They will rebuild this fall, after harvest.

A new $500 player-piano for the movie show arrived on Saturday evening and burned the following day. Ray Pierce, the movie machine operator was severely burned on the arm. Lund said he will rebuild.

The McLeavy mill will immediately rebuild, and it was said that the Jussila store will not rebuild.

Mrs. Sturdevant, a Finn who could not speak English plainly, had retired for the night. They broke in the entrance to save her from the flaming house. The next day she said she didn’t mind the loss so much as long as her cow was saved.

A strong west wind prevailed, which saved the western portion of the business district.


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