This article is from the Sept. 29, 1921 edition of the Waterville Empire-Press. This article attracted my attention because just this prior week I wrote an article about the Waterville EMS looking for volunteers to help provide emergency medical coverage for our area. Another all-volunteer agency we have is our local fire department that helps our community, which is at a high risk for fires, safe. Unfortunately, with this house fire 100 years ago, even a quick response by the fire department likely wouldn’t have helped. This story also serves as a reminder to have a plan of how to get everybody out of your house in the event of a fire, including having alternative routes in case your first way is blocked. It is a miracle that Mrs. Webley managed to wake up in time to get herself and her children safely out. In the last century, increased fire coverage, the phone becoming a common household item (followed by the invention of the cell phone which has made us all even more accessible), and the invention of the smoke detector have made our households much safer (although not immune) from catastrophe caused by fires.
Webley home burned Monday
The home of R. F. Webley was burned Monday night, resulting in the loss of all household goods, and the total destruction of the house. The home of A. A. Whipple, adjoining the Webley home on the north, was slightly damaged. Mrs. Webley was alone with the children, Mr. Webley being engaged in harvesting the wheat crop on his Badger Mountain ranch. When she woke, flames barred the way to the doors. With difficulty she pushed the bedroom window open and succeeded in putting the children out. She then forced herself through.
Nothing was saved from the house. Mrs. Webley had to wear borrowed clothing Tuesday.
Mr. Webley had not been reached Tuesday noon. There is no phone at the ranch.