Robinette, Oregon in 1944. Standard Oil plant, at right, train in background.
Robinette, Oregon in 1944. Standard Oil plant.

Robinette Ferry
Robinette Ferry

Old Man Alverson
Old Man Alverson

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Robbinette Fire

The Robinette fire was probably the saddest incident of all. Iver Masterson relates a firsthand observance of the scene of this crisis.

"The Robinette Hotel fire occured one Monday in October, 1920. I was a seventh grader and had walked to the Richiand elementary school when my mother heard on the telephone about the fire. She always wanted me to see happenings and learn about them, so Mother and my father came to the school, got me excused for the morning and we drove in our 1918 four cylinder Buick to Robinette to see the disaster.

Robinette was a small community on the railroad nine miles from Richland where freight and passengers were transferred from the train for destinations at Richland and Pine Valley. It was composed of a general store, passenger depot, freight depot, school house, hotel, and several dwelling houses. The buildings were scattered over the area 100 to 200 feet apart. The hotel was a two-story all wood frame building which had a lobby and office in the front area, a dining room in the rear with a door opening to it from the lobby. This hotel had an open stairway from the lobby to the guest sleeping rooms upstairs with doors opening from the hallway. No fire alarms or fire escapes were anywhere in the building. I had sat in the hotel a number of times when waiting for the daily train to arrive from Huntington.

The October 5, 1920 issue of the newspaper read: Fire at Robinette, four persons badly burned in big blaze. Origin of flames, which broke out at ten o'clock last evening unknown. One not expected to live is report. Dwelling house is also destroyed. - Hotel unequipped with fire escapes. County officials will take charge. Three are dead and another is not expected to live as the result of a hotel fire which destroyed the Robinette Hotel at Robinette at 10 o'clock last evening. The cause of the fire is unkown. The dead are: Mark Houston, of Robinette; William Travis, Divisional Engineer on the Oregon Short Line; R. Corneilius, Oregon Short Line motor car man.

The injured: Mrs. George White, of Cambridge, Idaho, on her way to Richiand to visit friends, Seriously burned and later died. Bert McGee, owner of the hotel, burned from waist up. Serious condition; P.E. Parson, assistant divisional engineer on Oregon Short Line.
Badly Burned: I. Prennen, roadmaster, burned on sides. The fire is thought to have broken out about 10 o'clock last evening after all of the victims had retired. They were all occupants of rooms on the second floor of the frame building, which was not equipped with fire escapes. Reports indicated that the victims had no means of escape from the flames which rapidly destroyed the building.

Mrs. George White, who was on her way to Richland to visit friends, was taken to Weiser where she is said to be in a very serious condition and not expected to live.

The hotel was completely destroyed by the fire which spread to the residence of Arnold La Franz, storekeeper in Robinette.

Earl F. West, County Coroner, was called to the scene of ihe fire early this morning and left Baker on the morning train for Huntington. Sheriff Price Anderson left by automobile about 1 o'clock this afternoon.

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