1910 - UTTER DESTRUCTION OF HOTEL ADAMS. ARIZONA'S MOST FAMOUS HOSTELRY WRAPPED IN FLAME AND SMOKE WAS THE TERRIFYING YET GORGEOUS SPECTACLE WHICH SMOTE THE EYE OF THE EARLY RISING CITIZEN.
GUESTS CALLED FROM THEIR BEDS TO ENCOUNTER A STIFLING ATMOSPHERE IN THE CORRIDORS WHICH TO THE LATER ONES HAD BECOME IMPASSABLE - THE ESCAPE OF ALL WAS BY SO NARROW A MARGIN THAT IT WAS FEARED FOR A TIME THAT ALL WERE NOT SAVED.
SPLENDID WORK OF THE FIRE DEPARTMENT PREVENTED WHAT THREATENED TO BE WIDESPREAD CALAMITY - FIRE HAD HARDLY BEEN BROUGHT UNDER CONTROL WHEN PLANS BEGAN TO FORM FOR A NEW HOTEL ADAMS.
Phoenix, Arizona - In the greatest disaster in all the fiery record of Arizona the Hotel Adams, the largest and most expensive building in Phoenix, was utterly destroyed yesterday morning.
All that was left last night to mark where it stood was a tall chimney, an elevator shaft, the half of which had been sheared away longitudinally, and a tall spire of masonry whose fall was momentarily threatened. Men were proposing to complete the ruin and remove the menace with dynamite.
The loss of the hotel and its contents, to say nothing of the individual losses of the guests and the damages to adjacent buildings are conservatively estimated at $250,000.
The insurance will not exceed $100,000, exclusive of that on buildings not greatly damaged. In many cases there is a pitiful discrepancy between the loss and the insurance.
In spite of early reports, it is believed that there was no loss of life, though all the known guests were not accounted for last night. That is explained that when they fled before the conflagration there was no reason why they should return after it was over. There were a few minor injuries sustained in the hurry of the flight. There were many narrow escapes; in fact, it may be said that all were narrow - the margins in most cases were seconds.
The origin of the fire is a matter of conjecture as it always will be but it is generally believed a chemical combustion in the basement near the southwest corner caused it.
The presence of the fire was discovered at 5:45 in the morning and almost simultaneously smoke was belching from every window to the top of the building followed a little later by tongues of flame which grew rapidly in breadth and length until they wrapped the great structure.
"The Hotel Adams is burning!" was carried to nearby towns by telegraph and by telephone throughout the city and the surrounding country. That something was burning, the fierce clangor of the fire alarm was tolling over and over again. That something was burning would have been known if the bell had been silent for a great black column seen for miles was rearing itself higher and higher from the center of the town.
Another great black cloud was rising from the stack of the water works whose engines were working furiously to supply the means of putting down that rival smoke.
Long before seven o'clock the column of smoke was followed upward by a column of fire visible even in the bright sunlight for miles. Those who were nearer got an idea of an intensity of the fire. Out of the flames and smoke there now and then burst little white clouds of exhausted and useless steam. The fierce heat was catching the water from five streams of hose, carrying it upward and dissipating it. One terrifying effect of the fire was its roaring which could be heard above all other sounds a mile away.
It is impossible to recount adequately and accurately the acts of heroism, coolness and thoughtfulness which the fire called out. Everything was done that could be done and nothing was done that ought not to have been done. The bell boys of the hotel, all the attaches who were on the ground, and the earlier aroused guests all were heroes.
The fire department rose to the occasion. It had never had such a call upon its efficiency and it met it fully. The buildings still standing in the vicinity, the buildings still standing for blocks around stand as monuments to the department's efficiency. It was not believed that the Phoenix or any other department could confine the flames to the hotel. The firemen were favored by the absence of wind. If the conflagration had occurred five hours later it would have swept the entire town. It is dreadful to contemplate what would have happened an hour or two earlier - if that seething in the basement perhaps for hours - had found an outlet, as it did at 5:45 and swept up the elevator shaft, cutting off or hiding all avenues of safety.
All afternoon and all night streams of hose played upon the ruin which kept shooting up flames and showers of sparks. Meanwhile the moonlight lent greater ghostliness to what was left standing of the walls.
The Arizona Republican
May 18, 1910
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