Firefighters reflect on 1961 blaze in Steamboat |

Firefighters reflect on 1961 blaze in Steamboat

Fire services in transition 50 years after county annex destroyed

Fires from yesteryear

Some notable fires in Steamboat Springs before the May, 4 1961, county annex fire

■ May 7, 1909: A blaze downtown destroyed the Steamboat Pilot building and damaged Whipple stage barn, the Dunfield-Marsh store and Mitchell drug store, causing a total of about $10,000 in damage. The Brooklyn Fire Department helped fight the fire, which destroyed 24 years of Steamboat Pilot files, dating to 1885.

■ Dec. 9, 1910: Fire destroyed the Steamboat schoolhouse “on the outskirts of town.” The school was built in 1889 and was the first two-story school in Routt County.

■ July 23, 1915: A “fiery inferno” ruined the Mutual Theater building, on Lincoln Avenue between Seventh Street and Eighth Street. The flames spread to the Fruit & Confectionery Store of the Crosswhite sisters, and to G.W. Burchfield’s barber shop.

■ November 1916: The 23-room Onyx Hotel, built in 1898, burned after the water boiler exploded.

■ Dec. 23, 1927: The Pupke Building, built in 1909 at Lincoln and Seventh, was “completely lost.” Also damaged were Hix Grocery & Market, Walt Webber’s radio shop and Fred Maurer’s jewelry store.

■ Jan. 4, 1939: In Steamboat’s most famous and devastating fire, the 100-room Cabin Hotel, where Bud Werner Memorial Library now stands, is consumed by flames in an hour. One employee and one guest died in the fire. Deep snow hindered firemen fighting the blaze in the all-wood structure.

■ January 1941: Mock’s Economy Store burns downtown while minus-25-degree temperatures freeze water twice in firemen’s hoses. The fire caused about $15,000 in damages and spread to Bill’s Cafe and Charlie’s Barber Shop.

■ Feb. 28, 1958: The brick-and-wood Yampa Valley M & E Co. burns, causing about $50,000 in damages.

Source: Steamboat Pilot article from May 22, 1969

Steamboat Springs Fire Marshal Jay Muhme said he can remember bringing coffee to his father, Henry Muhme, who helped fight the county annex blaze in May 1961. Henry Muhme said crews fought the fire nonstop for about 12 hours. "You don't take a break," he said. "You just keep going."