The Cedarburg Fire Department suffered its greatest lost to date in the early morning of Tuesday, April 2, 1907. This article from the Cedarburg News on Wednesday, April 3, 1907 best describes the events that occurred the day before.

A Disastrous Blaze!

Fire Totally Destroys Engine House And All Apparatus, School, and Hotel Building.

At 2 o’clock on Tuesday morning, our citizens were aroused from their slumbers by the blowing of the fire whistles, sounding the alarm of fire, that was discovered in the basement of the city fire engine house, by Chas. Rilling of Grafton who happened to pass by at the above named time. When people arrived, the interior of the building was a mass of flames, and upon opening the doors the smoke and fire came shooting out, making it impossible to save anything within the building. The building was of brick, and converted into an engine house on the lower floor, and a school room on the upper floor for the sixth and seventh grade, was soon a burning mass. In it were the steamer, the old hand engine, hook and ladder wagon, several hose wagons, hose and everything belonging to a first class fire apparatus outfit, such as this city really possessed.

 Adjoining the engine house was the Cedarburg House, owned by Mrs. M. Kuether, and occupied by Nic Schuh. This structure which was of stone and one of the oldest in the city, was soon on fire and all efforts to control the flames were without success. However, before the building caught fire the greatest portion of the household goods were carried out to a place of safety with the assistance of friends and neighbors. The big barn in the rear of the building was next consumed, and the flames fanned by wind spread rapidly.

During all this time, with a high wind blowing, our firemen and citizens were left powerless to stay the flames, and all that could be done was with the aid of buckets to keep the roofs of the buildings wet to check the burning cinders from setting other buildings on fire. In the mean time help arrived that had been telegraphed for, to the adjoining villages and also to Milwaukee. The Grafton Fire Department arrived first with their hook and ladder wagon and hose, which was of great aid and help to reach the top of the buildings. Thiensville came a short time after with its engine, and soon the fire was under control. Word was sent to Milwaukee to that effect, reaching there just as an engine had been loaded on a flat car, and its firemen, were ready to start for Cedarburg. The entire loss on the buildings and contents is estimated to be about $15,000. The engine house, fire apparatus, and contents of the school room, were insured for $5,800; while Mrs. Kuether only carried an insurance of $1,800 on her buildings. Both buildings will be re-built.

Here is a picture before the fire of the firehouse and Kuether Hotel. (CFD Collection) Here is the remains of the firehouse and Kuether Hotel after the fire. (CFD Collection)

The blaze turned the Cedarburg Fire Department upside down. All of the equipment was destroyed and had to be replaced. The fire could have been much worse had the efforts of neighboring departments and citizens not come. The toll on a member of Thiensville was great. Mr. Mass heard of the blaze and rushed to the Thiensville firehouse to hitch up his draft horses to the engine. He drove his team hard to the fire in Cedarburg and upon arriving on scene the horses dropped over dead from exhaustion. This is probably one of the first times that the Cedarburg, Grafton, and Thiensville Fire Departments worked together on a fire.

Little remains of the old firehouse. The top of the flagpole was found and saved, it is in a display case at Station along with, a piece of brass from the engine and some glass. Amazingly, the fire department meeting minutes survived the fire, preserving the a great deal of this department’s history. It has long been a legend of the Cedarburg Fire Department that the bell that sits out front of Station 1 now, was salvaged from this fire.

Here is an image from the front of the burnt firehouse. The remains of the Ahrens Steam Engine "Michael Colbert" can be seen through the door on the right. This is the only image of this piece of equipment.  (CFD Collection) 

Also, a poem was written of the fire by Francis McGovern, Evelyn Pfeiffer, and students of the public school that were around 10 years old.

The Fire

One night when the people were sleeping,
A dreadful fire occurred,
The flames were swiftly creeping,
And soon an alarm was heard.

The people were roused from their slumbers deep,
And soon rushed out to see
What had startled them out of their sleep,
And what the matter could be.

They found a serious fire
Had in the engine-house started;
The flames rose higher and higher,
And the walls were in twain parted.

Soon the flames began to creep,
To the home of Nicholas Schuh,
The family out of their beds did leap,
For they did not know what to do.

The fire could not be controlled,
Until both buildings about burned to the ground;
But soon help from Grafton into the city rolled;
For they our great need had found.

As the flames could not be extinguished,
Both buildings at last burned to the ground,
And, for the scholars who are so distinguished,
No school building could be found.

And now the walls are standing,
Like ruined castles of old,
And peoples’ mouths are expanding,
As this wonderful story is told.

While the entry of this fire into the official minutes book appears to have been written with a little more emotion then most other entries, the members dusted themselves off and began the business of rebuilding the Cedarburg Fire Department.

The Foundation       Rebuilding


Apparatus Destroyed

Ahrens Steam Pumper "Michael Colbert"

Hand Pulled, Hand Pumper "Metamora No. 2"

Ladder Wagon

Numerous Hose Carts