While not a fire that resulted in any loss of life, the Iroquois Hotel fire of 1907 is fascinating to me. The postcard above was mailed the very same day that the hotel burned to the ground.
This 1905 Detroit Publishing Company postcard was one of the catalysts for starting the City in Ruins project. The message is simple but gives the date and mentions the fact that the hotel burned that morning.
The postcard was mailed from Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan to Miss Nina Jenks, Chicago, Illinois on March 12, 1907:
This hotel burnt to the ground this morning.
As mentioned in the article posted, this was the second fire at that exact site. Nine years earlier a hotel at that site was destroyed and G.D. Welton, the manager, narrowly escaped with his life.
The new hotel, dubbed the Iroquois was erected at a cost of $60,000 with $40,000 in furnishings.
The fire in the Iroquois started in a sample room; caused by a coal explosion in a fireplace. The flames burned for five hours and destroyed a residence next door.
All twenty-five guests escaped the building quickly, leaving all their possessions behind. Luckily, it was the off-season and the hotel was not full or the damage and danger would have increased exponentially.
The firemen putting out the blaze were unable to fight the flames as both the water main and the hydrants were frozen solid. They had to basically wait for the fire to die down in its own and spray it with what little water they had available.
There were no injuries or casualties but the loss was total. I don’t believe another hotel was built on that site.
I was able to find a 1907 insurance claim after the conflagration. These were the final results.