Sunday, May 4, 2008

Fate of the Coulee City Roundhouse

From the "Coulee City News," Coulee City, WA,

Friday 8-1-1947

Fire Destroys Bitco Plant Here Tuesday

A spectacular fire Tuesday night (July 29) virtually destroyed the plant and equipment of Bitco, Inc. No immediate estimate of the amount of damage was available. Cause of the fire was unknown.

The fire was discovered about 9:30 pm Tuesday by three men on the night shift at Bitco.

Clyde Welker, local manager for Bitco, said he attempted to turn in the alarm by telephone but got only a busy signal when dialing the fire department number. The alarm was finally turned in by a passerby who drove downtown to turn in the alarm.

The plant, housed in the old Northern Pacific roundhouse building, was blazing from end to end by the time the fire fighting equipment arrived.

There was an additional delay in getting water on the flames because of lack of sufficient hose to reach the fire hydrant on Main street, three blocks away.

The Welder residence, only a few feet from the plant, was not damaged. Electrical service throughout the town was interrupted for a few minutes during the fire.

Bitco, with head offices in Wallace, Ida., was engaged in tool sharpening operations, and handled tool sharpening for the Bureau of Reclamation and all major contractors on the Columbia Basin Project except Connelly and Winston-Utah companies. Thirteen people were employed by Bitco here.

Welker said Wednesday that the loss was at least partially covered by insurance. He said decision on reestablishment of the plant here would by made by Bitco officials later.

1 comment:

Mary said...

The roundhouse in coulee survived well into the 60's maybe 70's. It had a roof and doors with an office
on the left side. It stood empty as
long as I could remember. It was finally torn down for the bricks probably in the early 70's. I do remember finding drill bits outside
of the front door. Bitco explains this. I still have some of the Bits.
B. Razey