Blaney Fire Damage Set at $35,000

Scene at Blaney Lumber Company Fire Yesterday

This was the scene at the height of the Blaney Lumber company fire yesterday when the smoke, heat and flames were so thick that traffic on United States highway No. 1 was blocked for 30 minutes. This picture was taken by James Eichler, a technicolor cameraman, who happened to be passing by en route from his home at Ridgefield, Conn., to Miami, Fla. The company estimated its loss at $35,000.

Blaney, June 2 – A raging fire roured through the Blaney Lumber company plant here this afternoon and destroyed more than $35,000 worth of wholesale lumber.

E. T. Bowen, president of the lumber company estimated that 840,000 feet of lumber was destroyed by the flames which grew from a small spark to an inferno so hot it melted part of United States Highway No. 1 and scorched trees across the road.

But the persistent fight of more than 70 employees armed with buckets, chemical apparatus and one small fire hose saved all structures and about two-sevenths of the lumber stock.

With buckets and one hose the men held back the fire at strategic points and removed lumber piles behind the fire, thereby cutting off any path for it to spread back to the saw mill, office and other piles of lumber.

A strong wind fanned the flames over a wide area. Mr. Bowen said the men could not putt the fire out but kept it from spreading by moving the lumber piles between the fire and other properties.

The fire was first discovered at noon and it raged for two hours or more, consuming approximately 140 piles of lumber. Mr. Bowen said

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June 3, 1949  State (published as The State)  
Columbia, South Carolina
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Blaney Fire

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the cause of the fire could not be determined exactly, but he presumed that a spark from the yard’s steam plant stack or a passing train was the cause.

Forest rangers and firemen from Columbia and Camden were called on for help. The truck from Camden broke down and the Columbia department was unable to accommodate, Mr. Bowen said.

The rangers fought small fires that formed across the road from the lumber yard and held the fire at bay along wooded areas.

Traffic along the highway was halted by the terrific heat, flames and smoke for more than 30 minutes. When autos began to move their wheels sank into the melted surfacing of the road.

Mr. Bowen said his company has insurance but not enough to cover the losses involved.

John T. Stevens of Kershaw is vice-president of the compnay and R. M. Perry of Kershaw is treasurer.

Late last night workmen were still putting out the glowing embers of wood-piles that covered a quarter of a mile area. Bowen said fire watches would be necessary for a long time because of a smoldering sawdust pile, which could break out into flames at any time.

June 3, 1949  State (published as The State)  
Columbia, South Carolina
Page 3

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