Fire devastates Twisp on July 24, 1924.

  • By Karen West
  • Posted 12/13/2011
  • Essay 9979
See Additional Media

On July 24, 1924, just after midnight, a devastating fire breaks out in Twisp, a small town in Okanogan County's Methow Valley. Pushed by a light breeze, the blaze consumes two houses and 23 wooden buildings, gutting the downtown business district and inspiring a new age of brick and concrete construction.  

The blaze started in the home and office of Dr. Holmes, although its cause was never determined. The doctor and his wife, awakened by the searing heat and smoke, managed to grab their two children before escaping. There were no fatalities. Only the Filer and McAlister grocery store and the Commercial Bank's vault survived within the fire zone. Both were built of red brick. 

Marie Filer Risley, who lived just north of town, recalled waking up in the wee hours to the sound of the fire bell and an orange glow over downtown Twisp. Her husband, Leonard, ran to town to help fight the blaze while she stayed home with their baby. "It was so hot, and the fire was on both sides of the street, that the fire hoses that were dragged out into the middle of the street just burnt up like paper," she recalled (Bound for..., 54).  

The town's water system -- a four-inch wooden pipeline carrying water from the Twisp River -- was no match for the inferno, which ran along both sides of Glover Street between First and Second avenues, and along First Avenue between Glover and Division streets. 

Among the buildings destroyed were the Hagerman and Ella Couche houses, the Commercial Bank, Twisp Mercantile's store and warehouse, the Twisp Hotel, Oasis Confectionery, Twisp Pharmacy, Holman Bakery, Hoffman Shoe Shop, the transfer garage, Mutual Creamery, Risley's Pool Hall, a meat market, Scott's Barber Shop, and the Twisp Flour Mill. Rebuilding started as soon as the ash cooled.

Sources: Kit McLean and Karen West, Bound for the Methow (Winthrop: Shafer Historical Museum, 2009), 54; Sally Portman, The Smiling Country, A History of the Methow Valley (Winthrop: Sun Mountain Resorts, Inc., 2002), 182.

Licensing: This essay is licensed under a Creative Commons license that encourages reproduction with attribution. Credit should be given to both and to the author, and sources must be included with any reproduction. Click the icon for more info. Please note that this Creative Commons license applies to text only, and not to images. For more information regarding individual photos or images, please contact the source noted in the image credit.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License
Major Support for Provided By: The State of Washington | Patsy Bullitt Collins | Paul G. Allen Family Foundation | Museum Of History & Industry | 4Culture (King County Lodging Tax Revenue) | City of Seattle | City of Bellevue | City of Tacoma | King County | The Peach Foundation | Microsoft Corporation, Other Public and Private Sponsors and Visitors Like You