Yelm High School Destroyed, 1941

Loss Estimated At Around $30,000

Nisqually Valley News  Thursday, June 26, 1941

 Fire started in the Yelm High School early Tuesday morning and was discovered about 7:15 by men nearby. Although the actual alarm was not turned in until this time, the crackling of the fire was heard for some ten minutes previously before anyone was able to identify the sound. Bob Fristoe called the phone office and the siren blew immediately and Fire Chief Ed Brown, assisted by Neal Curry, Louis Alongi and other volunteer firemen had the hoses going in the projection room where the fire probably started within a very few minutes. Credit for holding the fire in check must be given to Fired Chief Brown and his helpers.

The major part of the fire was just above the projection room and over the auditorium where nothing could have stopped the fire according to the school authorities and others familiar with the architecture of the school.

 Fearing that the fire might spread if the wind came up or when the building reached it’s largest volume, a call was made to Olympia there call there being received about 7:47 with the Olympia Fire Department responding immediately, the Olympia fire fighters were on the job in 23 minutes from the time the call was made.

Superintendent O. L. Montgomery was in Seattle where he is taking a summer course at the University and could not be reached immediately but returned as soon as he could.

William Mers, school board member and E. H. Booney, also of the school board were present soon after the fire was reported. John Peugh and other members that could were present to assist in any way they could. L. Sholseth and Charles Donaldson of the janitor force were on the job to help.

Some of the equipment, including typewriters and electric ranges were saved, as well as some books, but the bulk of the equipment was a total loss.

The building was built in 1917 at a cost of some $25,000 to $30,000 and a great many improvements have been added since that time so that the value of the building, cost of replacing would be considerably higher than this and the building itself was insured for $14,000and the furnishings were insured for another $9,000.

The school plant is heated from a central heating plant so that no loss was incurred to the heating plant.

Other fire departments which were present to help out were the Roy fired department and the new pumper recently purchased by the Weyerhaueser Timber Company at Vail. The Vail equipment ran a line and had water in the hose immediately after they arrived, but the Roy department was held in reserve in order to provide for safety.

William Mers, speaking for the school board expressed his appreciation and sincere thanks to the member of the Yelm Fire Department, the volunteers and the visiting fire department of Roy, Vail, and Olympia for the fine way in which the fire was handled and for the efforts made to save other school property which might easily have caught and destroyed more property. He particularly was grateful to the Yelm Fire Department for their prompt response and the efficient way the fire was controlled.

Among the things that were saved that can never be replaced were the pictures of the graduating classes of past years, together with the trophies and awards, which will mean a great deal to those who attended school in this beautiful old structure.

The building was not modern, nor was it constructed for as many students as now use it, but the grounds and surrounding shrubbery gave it a beautiful setting that will always be remembered by those who attended school there.

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