Opera House Gutted By Fire

Box Elder News, 20 November 1917
Fire broke out on the stage of the opera house Sunday about 1 o'clock, and before the flames were subdued they had eaten away all the scenery, the dressing rooms on the east side of the stage, the roof over the dancing hall lobby, charred the stage ceiling, blistered the paint on the woodwork of the auditorium, blistered the seats in the gallery and blistered some of the seats in the auditorium. Smoke did a lot more damage and then when the water got to streaming into the place from the roof, everything was thoroughly soaked up. The damage is estimated at approximately $6,000, with $4,180 insurance as follows: $2,675 on the house; $820 on the piano and furniture; $685 on the scenery.

In getting at the flames, which were creeping between the ceiling of the auditorium and the floor of the dance hall above, the firemen cut a hole thru the dancing floor near the north end of the hall. The piano in the dancing hall balcony is baked to a frazzle and practically the same thing happened to the piano in the orchestra pit of the auditorium.

The fire raged fiercest in the flies on the stage which were constructed of wood and cloth, highly flammable, and it soon shot thru the floor into the roof of the balcony over the entrance to the dancing hall immediately above. That the fire originalted in the east dressing room is evidenced by the fact that the part of the building is all but completely burned out while the west part is only charred and smoked up.

For the purpose of admitting workmen to the dancing floor to make repairs on the windows, the door leading up to that part of the building had been left unlocked. The stage door leading from the hall stairway to the [missing word] room was also open and it is presumed that someone went in the building and carelessly threw a cigar or cigarette stump or a match onto the floor and did not see that the fire was extinguished. The neighbors across the street noticed some children going in and out of the stage door during the forenoon on Sunday and it is possible that they may have carelessly used a match. Then there is the theory that a live wire started the fire, but at this writing there is nothing definite as to just how the fire got started.

The four city ward bishops who made up the board of control of the building, had just given orders to have the dancing hall renovated and fixed up so that the ward organizations might use it during the coming winter for socials. The house has been leased for the past few years to Messrs. Koford & Ryan, who decided not to renew their lease at its expiration some months ago.

Just what the bishops will do with the building will not be determined until after the fire adjusters get thru with their investigation which will be this week some time. The building originally cost the four wards $4,000.