A History of STRUM
and the TOWN OF UNITY
by Roy Matson
THIS IS PAGE 31  |  TABLE OF CONTENTSPAGE BACKPAGE FORWARD
The 1914 Fires

It is often admitted that any major change in appearance of a small town business district
occurs only after a major fire. Strum underwent two such happenings in December, 1914.

The first instance removed the Pederson store and the old central lean-to located on the
corner of the present Immanuel Church lot. The fire department crew used the opportunity
to become acquainted with their newly acquired hand pumper. Both buildings, however,
burned to the ground.

The second fire took place on the evening of December 25, a night long remembered by
village residents. Six frame buildings on the east side of Main Street went up in smoke
leaving scars that remained for a decade. The blaze started in J. C. Callís living quarters on
the second floor of his business building north of the depot. With a south wind aiding the
fire, it consumed everything in its path, finally being stopped by T. M. Olsonís two story
brick building.  Besides Callís large place of business, gone were the hotel and Olsonís
two story heavy hardware shop and three smaller buildings.

According to Clarence Knutson, then 15 years old and manning a position on the new
pumper, a fire was under control at Callís second floor when the cistern went dry. The fire
got a good headway while a second source of water was obtained and when some
ambitious fireman cut the nozzle off the hose, hope of control was gone. Willing hands
removed furniture from the hotel and stock from a couple of the buildings. Flames were
high above the tallest building and visible for several miles.
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