1887 Fire Devastated
Early Ironwood

As it appeared in the local Newspaper Sept 18, 1887

On Sept. 17. 1897 a fire that started IN a small unoccupied building beside the Alhambra theater left Ironwood in ashes and inflicted a $300,000 damage on the village. Some 75 of 80 buildings were destroyed in the main business section of town represented about two thirds of the business district

With what now is obviously undue pessimism a contemporary newspaper account of the fire prosaically labeled another devastation, said:
Last Saturday Ironwood's prosperity received a blow from which it is doubtful it will ever recover.  Nearly the whole business portion of the city was totally destroyed by fire, leaving but three business blocks standing, which includes about one-third of the business portion of the town.

The alarm of fire was given about 12 o'clock (noon). . It originated in a small unoccupied building near the Alhambra theatre.  Just how it started or what the cause of it is unknown. Some claim that it was the work of an incendiary.

But that can hardly be. possible, (for he would not have chosen the middle of the day in which to  accomplish his work). It will probably remain one of the Mysteries which people ponder  about and wonder over. The sad reality of its terrible work remains, however, a glaring fact staring the people of the stricken city in the face

The fire had ganed conisiderable headway before it was seen, but if Ironwood had had a fire engine it could have been confined to the building it started in.  When once under headway, however. the fire spread with the utmost rapidity. licking up the buildings and their contents as if they were so much paper.

The Alhambra theatre and the St. James Hotel were rapidly reduced tp ashes.

From the latter it jumped the street to Bingham and Perrin's and spread south as far as the Grand Hotel, when it was stopped in it's mad career by the well directed efforts of the Hurley Fire Department. The fact that six solid business blocks were leveled to the ground in about an hour and a half shows with what teriffic force the work was accomplished.

Because even amidst these scenes of destruction when men were losing their all, and families were being turned out of house and home, there were men and women, friends rather, who instead if aiding to fight the fire and save the town, added theft and depredation, thus completing the drama of destruction.

Groceries. clothing, boots and shoes, hardware, in fact everything that could be carried off was stolen without stint.  In many instances articles were taken from the owners themselves, sometimes by force. Some of the merchants lost probably a fourth of their stock,  although not a thing was burned.

Many extra policemen, were sworn in, but although they made  arrests, and used every endeavor to prevent the stealing yet they were utterly unable to control the crowd of toughs who  thronged the streets..
Too much praise cannot he bestowed upon the fire department of Hurley for the heroic work they did inconfining the fire to its present limits.
Ironwood was without any fire
Protection whatever and the fact that any part of thebusiness portion of Ironwood remains standing today can be placed to the credit of Hurley's gallant firemen.

JL Strong's new buding on Suffolk street and William Rothschild's two story building were torn down to stop the progress of the fire, but as it afterward turned out, unnesessarily.

The mines near town were closed down to allow the miners  to come and aid in suppressing the fire and many of them did good work.

As far as we can learn there was little or no insurance on nearly everything destroyed Individual losses varied from 75,000, 40,000 and 20,000 for some of the larger stores and down to amounts ranging from 300 to 600 for saloons, drugstores, restaurants and jewelers.
It was further noted that the erection of small, temporary buildings had begun before the fire stopped burning.

The Great Fire Of 1887
Hurley Fire Dept.  ... Helped in the Great Fire of 1887