Fire has always been a threat to lumber mills, especially in the days before modern firefighting equipment was close at hand.
One mill in Klamath Falls, Ore., had a series of disastrous fires in the early 1900s. The Ewauna Box Company faced its first major blaze on Oct. 9, 1917. The fire started about noon in the factory’s planer section, and quickly spread throughout the mill, consuming thousands of board feet of lumber. Some 100 workers lost their jobs.
Spectators gathered to watch the fire, but were helpless to stop it, a newspaper reported. The blaze was so intense it caused minor damage to a nearby iron works factory and a flour mill.
Businessmen who started the lumber company, including Klamath Falls Mayor Casabianca Crisler, said insurance would cover about half of their loss, estimated at $150,000 – a fortune at the time.
Ewauna Box was the first company in Klamath Falls to make wooden boxes for shipping fruit and vegetables before cardboard had been invented. The factory had operated for five years before the 1917 fire.
Ewauna rebuilt the mill, which faced further destructive blazes in later years.
Source: "Klamath Mills Razed By Fire." Evening Herald, 9 Oct. 1917 [Klamath Falls, Ore.] , p. 1.