1926: JEROME FIRE; Burns 17 Homes and Takes Lives, July 8.


"The most disastrous fire that has occurred in Jerome in many years broke out at 3 o'clock yesterday morning in a little house occupied by J. Tothe, situated immediately in back of the Hotel Jerome."

"Two persons perished, Semona Arenas being burned to death in her home and Sausalito Martinez dying about 9:30 o'clock yesterday morning in the United Verde hospital to which institution he had been rushed by the company ambulance within a few minutes after he was taken from the ruins of his little home. Two others were badly burned, but will recover."

"The property loss is large, 15 small homes and 2 large structures being completely destroyed and several others badly scorched and damaged. It is completely impossible to make an estimate of the money loss, as few of the buildings were insured."

"From the statements of a number of eye-witnesses, it appears that the death of Semona Arenas was utterly unnecessary. She was seen to rush from her burning home, throw her hands into the air, turn around and blindly stagger back into the blazing building. A number of firemen rushed after her, but a sudden outburst of flame drove them back and it was several minutes before the body could be reached. Death must have been almost instantaneous."

"Martinez was horribly burned about the upper part of the body and it was evident when he reached the hospital that there was but the faintest hope of saving his life. The flesh from his arms was literally cooked and the entire head and trunk were scorched almost to a cinder. Everything that surgical skill could do was done, but all efforts proved unavailing and he died, as stated, at about 9:30 yesterday morning."

"FAST WORK: The fire department was on the scene, with better than a 90 per cent attendance of the members within a very few minutes after the sounding of the first alarm. Chief Harry Amster has been the recipient of universal congratulations for the skill with which the fire was handled, but he modestly declines to take any of the credit. 'I wish you would say,' he said to the Verde Copper News yesterday, 'that every man on the force did his complete duty and that every bit of the credit is due the men of the department. It was a bad blaze --- hot and dangerous --- and the flimsy buildings burned like tinder. There was little hope of saving any of those that were in flames when the department arrived and we confined our efforts to saving life and to confining the fire to the original area. It would be impossible to say too much for the heroism with which the members of the department plunged into almost unbearable heat in searching for people who might possibly be in the burning houses and but for their efforts, the casualty toll might have been greater than it was."

"A GREAT HELP: It may be remembered that during the administration of Mayor Robert K. Porter, a stand pipe was installed on the Hotel Jerome with several openings on the roof. This action was taken in view of the possibility of just such a fire as that of yesterday morning, and it can be stated with every positiveness that the streams that were operated from the roof of the hotel prevented the fire from being much worse than it was."

"In addition to the streams from the roof, four lines of hose were laid from Main street and five others from hydrants available on the north, east and south sides of the burning area. The water from the hotel standpipe served not only to prevent the spread of the flames to the west, but also enabled the firemen to get close to the burning buildings. Chief Amster declared this moring to the Verde Copper News that the service from the hotel roof was one of the most valuable factors in the fight to prevent the spread of the conflagration. 'Had it not been for the standpipe,' he said, 'the men could not have worked with any efficiency, if they could have worked at all, on the south and west sides of the blaze. The heat was simply too intense to be borne. The water from the roof drenched the pipemen and enabled them to get close to the buildings. In addition to this the boys were able to keep the buildings within reach of the streams thoroughly soaked.'"

(Verde Copper News; Jerome; Friday; July 9, 1926; page 1, columns 5-7.)

SEMONA ARENAS was born in Mexico about 1876, and was about 50 years old when she died in Jerome on July 8, 1926. She was a widow, and had been married to Jesus Arenas. She was buried in the Jerome Valley Cemetery on July 9. The informant for the Certificate of Death was Louis Arenas.

ESTANILAZ MARTINEZ was born in Mexico about 1895, and was about 30 years old when he died from severe burns on July 8, 1926. He is the son of Manuel Martinez. He married Manuella Frias. He worked as a mucker at the Verde Central Mine. He was buried in Valley View Cemetery on July 9. The informant for the Certificate of Death was O. Guitterez of Jerome.

JESUS ARCANTAR was about 60 years old when he died of heart failure in Jerome at 1:30 p.m., on July 8, 1926. He had been born in Mexico about 1866, and was single. He was buried in the Jerome Valley Cemetery on July 9. The informant for the Certificate of Death was D. E. Tesso of Jerome.


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