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Skagit River Journal

of History & Folklore
Subscribers Edition Stories & Photos
The most in-depth, comprehensive site about the Skagit.

Covers from British Columbia to Puget sound. Counties covered: Skagit, Whatcom, Island, San Juan. An evolving history dedicated to the principle of committing random acts of historical kindness
Noel V. Bourasaw, editor 810 Central Ave., Sedro-Woolley, Washington, 98284
Home of the Tarheel Stomp Mortimer Cook slept here & named the town Bug

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Fire Hall saved as blaze levels
only tavern in Lyman

Sedro-Woolley Courier-Times, Feb. 9, 1950
(Fire photo 1)
Frank Wolf and another man watch the clean-up after the fire. Both photos courtesy of Cecil Hittson, who has been a tremendous source. We hope that others will send us scans or copies of their family photos. We do not need or want your originals.

      A spectacular blaze visible from Sedro-Woolley, nine miles away, destroyed the Lyman Tavern early this morning, leaving the upriver community of 347 persons without a beer hall. The fire hall next door was saved by a cement partition and by quick work of the firemen.
      Ray Weaver, who lives a block away from the tavern, was the first one to see the fire and blew the alarm at 3:15 a.m. The blaze made considerable headway before it was noticed. Fire Chief Jake Koops Jr. and the Lyman volunteer firemen turned out to battle the flames. Koops called the Sedro-Woolley department at 3:30 a.m. and the two departments fought the fire for about an hour and a half before it was quelled.
      Earl Swartwood owns the tavern. Cause of the fire was undetermined and Fire Chief Koops investigated the remains today and said the fire probably started in the wiring near the fuse box at the back wall. He said he didn't think it started in the refrigeration compressor in the rear of the building. The front wall and part of the side walls remain standing.
      Koops estimated the damage and loss at between $5,000 and $10,000. Swartwood carried some insurance on the building and may rebuild. Some 350 persons from Lyman and the neighboring town of Hamilton turned out to watch the blaze.

(Fire photo 2)
The people viewing the fire are Stob Self, Frank Wolf, Snort Brawley, from left to right.

      The former Beth nelson of Sedro-Woolley called Mrs. Nate Beasley, wife of Lyman's mayor, and said she could see the glow from the flames here in town
      The fire hall sustained only minor damage in the blaze. Firemen removed the truck, other apparatus and a road grader. Fire Chief Koops praised the assistance given by Sedro-Woolley firemen in stopping the blaze.

Cecil Hittson memories of the fire
      Ed. note: as with almost any story of Lyman in the 20th century, our devoted reader Cecil Hittson remembers the details that did not make the newspapers. Here is his memory of the event along with photos.

By Cecil Hittson
      Jake Koops was fire chief and I was a volunteer . I had just went to bed when the siren sounded . Rushing to the fire, I grabbed a 2-inch hose and I went to the top of the fire hall and was shooting water through the tavern skylight. The pressure inside grew so great that the front windows blew out. This caused a wall of flame to come up over the top of the tavern, fire hall and me. I was on top of the tavern when the front windows blew. I threw my hose off slid down ladder, not touching a rung. When the front windows of the tavern exploded, releasing a ball of fire over the top of the fire hall and tavern, I returned to the front of the tavern which was next door to Koop's grocery store.
      I heard people screaming below. At this point I wasted no time in removing myself from the roof . Then I went around to the front, grabbed a 4-inch hose. With someone on the hose behind me, we headed for the front . All at once we came to a sudden stop. Turning around I found my partner to be missing. Jake grabbed the hose behind me and we proceeded into the tavern through a front window.
      We had to turn and shoot water on small fires that would start behind us . One time, when turning back and proceeding into the fire, we were met by a person wearing a poncho . He tripped over a fallen board. As he picked himself up i noticed he was carrying a gallon of wine under each arm. How he got in there i don't know. He stumbled and fell in front of us, got up without breaking the wine bottles and disappeared. The buildings of the tavern and fire hall today are at the same location. The thing that saved the fire hall is a firewall of concrete between the two structures. When the fire-fighting was over the Jackpot cafe was opened and we were given breakfast. As i recall the fire started about 2:30 a.m. and about 6:30 a.m. when breakfast was served.

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