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Flue Fire Nearly Destroys Merlin, Ore., in 1915

Thanks to nature, a late-night fire didn't totally destroy the town of Merlin in 1915.  It came close.

The fire started around midnight when someone decided to make coffee on a stove with a bad flue in the kitchen of an unoccupied rooming house. 

The blaze quickly spread both north and south, sparking the summer-dry wood of the general merchandise store, the Mason Building, the Post Office, and a blacksmith shop before leaping across the street to the Southern Pacific Depot.  Merlin was without fire-fighting equipment, but the first fall rain helped limit the fire’s spread.  Merlin residents came out to help the general store owner rescue most of his merchandise and to save everything at the post office. 

A resident fleeing his house grabbed a few books from his library and his typewriter before running from the flames.  The Southern Pacific building and railroad records and telegraph were lost.  The next day the daily Rogue River Courier estimated damages at $20,000. 

Undefeated by the fire, Southern Pacific set up a boxcar for a depot the next day, and wired it for telegraph service.

 

Source: "Fire Destroys Much of the Village of Merlin." Daily Rogue River Courier 24 Oct. 1915 [Grants Pass Oregon] : 1. Web. 16 Feb. 2016. .

Lynda Demsher has been editor of a small-town weekly newspaper, a radio reporter, a daily newspaper reporter and columnist for the Redding Record Searchlight, Redding California. She is a former teacher and contributed to various non-profit organizations in Redding in the realm of public relations, ads, marketing, grant writing and photography.