10/30/1916Private Roy E. Teel, Eight Cavalry, Fractures Hip in Fall From Roof; Structue, Furniture and Chemical Equipment Valued at $30,000 Totally Destroyed.
Fire of unknown origin shortly after 6 o’clock yesterday morning completely destroyed the administration, or main building, of the State School of Mines, located one-half mile east of Fort Bliss. Private Roy E. Teel, Troop I, Eighth Cavalry, was seriously injured. Private Teel was with the soldiers from the post whose heroic work is said to have saved other buildings of the school. It was at the time the dormitory was seriously threatened that Private Teel made his way to the roof of the building and there, despite the terrific heat, remained fighting back the flames. In some manner he lost his balance and fell from the roof. His right hip was fractured and he sustained injuries about the head. The injured soldier was removed to the base hospital. His injures are considered serious. Private Teel is 21 years old.
Loss Is $30,000
The building destroyed and furniture alone was valued at approximately $30,000. This is not taking into consideration the equipment of the different laboratories, collection of mineral specimens, supplies and other accessories, all of which were among the fire losses.
The chemical laboratory, which was reputed to be one of the most complete in the southwest and had a value of $10,000 placed on it, was probably the greatest loss sustained in the item of equipment of the building. Cabinets of mineral specimens that had taken years and expense to assemble were lost. Some of the specimens had been donated, but the majority had been gathered after considerable time had been spent in research work and thorough examination. One cabinet of mineral specimens, scientifically arranged, was on exhibition at the International Soil Products exposition, recently held here. It was a costly exhibit and created much interest among mining men and mining engineers. In addition to the mineral specimen the School of Mines had a complete assay furnace in operation during the exposition. The cabinets and other similar ones were destroyed along with the building and equipment.
It was stated it would be difficult to place value on the equipment that was lost in the fire, but it is believed that the amount would be considerable.
The building and equipment was insured but the amount, it is stated, will not replace the loss.
Dr. Stephen H. Worrel, dean of the School of Mines, was called out of the city Saturday to a place near Pima, Graham county, Arizona, and it is not believed he has yet learned of the loss. However, efforts were made yesterday to communicate with him by telegram. Dr. Worrel is expected to return to the city today. Dr. and Mrs. Worrel, who had apartments in the administration building, had recently moved to an apartment in the Alexandria. A number of Mrs. Worrel’s personal effects were still in the building, and those were destroyed.
Soldiers at Fort Bliss first discovered the fire and rushed to give assistance. These stated they first saw smoke and flames coming from underneath the northwest corner of the roof of the building.
Building Soon In Flames
Students occupying the dormitory, which is near the main building, stated they were awakened about 6 o’clock yesterday morning by cries of fire and hastened from the dormitory to see the main building in flames. The fire, when first discovered, was burning rapidly and it was only a short time when the entire building was aflame. Despite this students, assisted by soldiers, went into the building in the effort to save whatever possible. Several articles were saved in this way. However, when the flames had eaten their way to the roof, the roof began to crumble and shortly afterwards caved in. Attention was then turned to saving the dormitory and other buildings, which was accomplished through the heroic work of the students and soldiers. Although the fire threatened, time after time, to spread to the dormitory and adjoining buildings, the student and soldier fire fighters stuck to their posts. A bucket brigade was organized and in this way the buildings caved were kept thoroughly drenched until all danger was past, which was not until only the walls of the main building, scarred and wrecked, were left. Efforts then did not cease, water being continually thrown on the smoldering wreckage.
Praises Soldiers’ Work
“Had it not been for the heroic work of the soldiers,” said J.W. Kidd, professor of engineering at the School of Mines, “from the various branches of the service stationed at Fort Bliss, there is no doubt but that all of the buildings would have been destroyed.”
Mr. Kidd especially commended the work of the officers and men of the Eight Calvary.
The building destroyed was of colonial type. Huge concrete columns supported a portico over the main entrance. The building in addition to being of attractive design, was spacious and afforded ample accommodations for the class rooms, lecture rooms, offices and laboratories. It was two stories in height and a basement. The building occupied a conspicuous site. It was easily visible for anyone to see the building from either East El Paso or Ysleta.
Legislature Establishes School
It was through an act of the legislature the School of Mines was established here. The condition made, however, was that the citizens furnish the site and buildings. Richard F. Burges probably was the most active worker in support of the bill and in the work required after the passage of the bill in completing the establishment of the school here. Dr. Worrell and Dr. Phillips also rendered invaluable assistance. It was by virtue of the subscriptions on the part of the citizens here that the necessary site and buildings, which were formerly occupied by the El Paso Military school, were obtained.
The school, in its initial opening, stared with an attendance that no mining school in the country, with possibly the exception of Columbia university, New York boasted on its first enrollment.
Classes Resume Today
Despite the loss the school is prepared to carry on its sessions. Regular classes will be in session today and the fire loss will not interfere with these. The assaying equipment, located in the building, which was in the rear of the main building, was not harmed. Nor was the milling plant, where the tests are conducted for the proper treatment of different ores. It may require a short time to equip a laboratory, but this will not in any way interfere with the regular classes and assignment work that will be carried on without interruption. It is believed the state will take immediate steps to replace the destroyed building and equipment.