Ruins of Waco Cotton Palace after fire, showing failure of unprotected steel trusses.
On April 8, 1919 a fire destroyed the Waco Cotton Palace in Taco, TX. The fire last four hours and forty-five minutes.
From the NFPA Quarterly v. 13, no. 2, 1919:
"During the progress of the main fire one pumping engine was used of fifteen subsidiary fires on wooden shingle roofs of residences within radius of ten blocks. A two-story residence located some 250 feet north of the Cotton Palace was half destroyed in this manner... It is of interest to note in this connection that another Texas city -- Dallas -- has just seen fit to rescind its ordinance prohibiting wooden shingle roofs. Notwithstanding the lead which the cities of the great Southern state are taking in the matter of enforcing the principle of individual liability for fires due to carelessness or neglect, there are evidently plenty of people still left in that territory who need to be awakened to an elementary sense of their obligations to community in the matter of fire prevention."
For more information regarding this or other historic fires, please feel free to reach out to the NFPA Library. The NFPA Archives houses all of NFPA's publications, both current and historic. Library staff are available to answer reference questions from members and the general public.