Whiskey to Burn

Saturday, September 30, 1871

The month ends with a large fire that consumes the Burlington Warehouse near the corner of State and Sixteenth streets, destroying an estimated $650,000 worth of property in about ninety minutes.  The warehouse is owned by Samuel Nickerson, President of the First National Bank, who has leased it out.  Lost inventory includes whiskey, wine, syrups, barrels, sugar, groceries, stoves, and machinery.  Insurance on the building and its contents is held with more than sixty companies.  The fire attracts thousands of gawkers.  After it is put out, workmen find the body of Charles Stearns amid the ashes.  The coroner’s jury rules that the managers of the warehouse followed proper safety rules and are not legally responsible for Stearns’s death.