Iowa State Capitol Fire of 1904

On January 4, 1904 the Capitol Building caught fire. According to an article in the Des Moines Register and Leader the House Legislative Chamber and adjacent rooms were gutted by the fire. The cause of the fire was unknown at the time the article was written. The total loss from the fire was estimated at between $300,000 and $500,000.

The following timeline of the fire appeared in the Des Moines Register and Leader on January 5, 1904.

  • 11:00 a.m.-First fire alarm.
  • 11:10 a.m.-Call for more hose.
  • 11:40 a.m.-General alarm.
  • 1:00 p.m.-Fire had reached extreme south end of chamber roof and Chief Burnett said the building was doomed.
  • 1:15 p.m.-Fire broke through the partition separating main gallery from dome passage.
  • 1:45 p.m.-Fire reached the partition separating the main hall from library and orders given by Governor Cummins to have books removed.
  • 2:00 p.m.-Sky lights began to fall and chandeliers with great crash.
  • 2:15 p.m.-Orders given to keep people from under dome for fear fire had eaten into it and would cause it to fall.
  • 2:30 p.m.-Third line of hose laid to upper south gallery and communication cut off from dome.
  • 2:45 p.m.-Chief Burnett said danger was over if the fire did not eat through the holes in partitions on south side.
  • 3:00 p.m.-Chief Burnett and Assistant Chief Taylor agree that the blaze is under control.
  • 6:00 p.m.-Executive council met to consider plan as to session of legislature.