April, 1931 Fires Sweep Manitowoc County

 94.13.14: Engine No 1 - 600 gallon Pumper, put into service in 1910.  Photo taken on 700 block on Chicago Street in Manitowoc, circa 1947.

94.13.14: Engine No 1 - 600 gallon Pumper, put into service in 1910.  Photo taken on 700 block on Chicago Street in Manitowoc, circa 1947.

“Gosz Family at Cato flees through windows” was a front-page story in the Manitowoc Herald News on Monday, April 13, 1931. While newspapers were a primary news source for residents of the past, those same papers provide us today with the stories of the people, places, and events that make up Manitowoc County.

The April 13, 1931 edition of the Manitowoc Herald News reported many Wisconsin forest fires. Fires were often a common threat to early Manitowoc County citizens. Buildings were constructed of wood, with a stove pipe often sticking out of the roof for the chimney.  The spring of 1931 noted fires throughout Wisconsin and Manitowoc County, including the Gosz family home in Cato.

“Mr. and Mrs. Edward Gosz and their eight young children were trapped in their burning home, located near Reedsville on Route 3, Cato. The family escaped through the windows. The structure was built five years earlier. A total loss of more than $10,000 was reported. The fire was discovered about 9:30 at night.” 

"All efforts of neighbors to assist in extinguishing the blaze were fruitless as the high winds caused the rapid spread of the flames." The fire was believed to have started in the garage.”

“A Valders volunteer fire department overturned and the occupants escaped without injury. ...the truck was practically demolished when it left the road after the members of the department had aided in extinguishing a fire in one of the woods in the township of Cato."

"From all sections of Manitowoc County today came reports of fires, many of them spectacular but none of them resulting in any considerable loss as swamps and woodlands were in the path of the flames."

"The most spectacular fire in the recent months was that at Quarry where hundreds of men were at work building back-fires and attempting by the means to curb a fire in the Quarry swamp and an area of over a mile in length was laid waste before the fire was brought under control."

"From other sections came reports of fires in the woodlands of farms of Herbert Klessig and Walter Wehrwein in the town of Newton, the Habermas farm at Cato, and the William Buth farm, located a mile east of Maribel. At the later place, twenty-fire volunteers worked for a considerable time yesterday afternoon before the fire, confined to the brush in the 10 acre wooded tract, was brought under control."

"Fires were also reported in two instances within the city of Manitowoc, the grass on the river island near the high bridge of the Chicago and North Western Railroad being burned off and firemen on Saturday afternoon extinguished a grass fire in the vicinity of Lincoln Park."

"Fires were raging yesterday in a number of pastures along the Manitowoc-Two Rivers highway but no loss was sustained in any of them.”