COBWEB CORNERS: Colorado City’s 2nd memorable fire
By Mel McFarland
I have been looking for this fire. It was the second memorable fire in Colorado City. The first was in the mid-1890s, but this one was really a landmark blaze. It was on Jan 8, 1909.
Five large two-story houses burned down and another was badly damaged in the early hours of the morning. A stiff, cold wind spread the fire from one house to another. The fire started at 619 Washington, which is now Cucharras' 2600 block. The fires spread as far west as 27th and east to 25th. Embers were blown northeast from the fire, damaging houses as far as 2500 Pikes Peak and 2500 Kiowa. People living in these areas could be found on their roofs, protecting their homes with buckets of water. The firemen and volunteers also worked hard to keep the flames away from the businesses across the alley that faced Colorado Avenue. Help from the Colorado Midland and even Colorado Springs arrived within a few minutes. The spreading fire would require more help. The big steam pumper arrived from the Colorado Springs Fire Department.
The total loss was estimated at between $35,000 and $50,000. One of the buildings lost was owned by Laura Belle, with a value of about $10,000, which did have insurance. The Mansions, next door and Annie Wilson's place next to that each suffered similarly. John Boyd's "Stone Jug," also in that block, was barely worth half of the value of each of those.
So what was the loss? These buildings had been some of Colorado City's most notorious "adult entertainment" resorts. The city council had shut down their old use, and most were only being used at the time as rooming houses. It was discovered that indeed they were still operating, but were very low key! The flames had sent "ladies" and clients out into the street.
The story has been told of how Reverend Duncan Lamont had been out at the scene of one of these fires urging the flames on. I believe this was when the earlier fire destroyed a block long section of small buildings between 2400 and 2500 Cucharras. These were some of the early shacks used for similar purposes. Some of the "resorts" were even rebuilt, a bit more fireproof, but these fires gave the red light district a different sort of meaning.