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Looking back: School catches fire, funeral home stops ambulance services and Rudolph display is stolen

Looking Back

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EAST IDAHO — is looking back in time at what life was like during this week in east Idaho history.

This week is Dec. 20 to Dec. 26.


REXBURG — A “big fire” broke out at a Rexburg school with students inside, The Rexburg Standard reported on Dec. 22, 1910.

The fire happened at Central School, which was located one block north of Main Street on First West. The flames were discovered by someone outside the building, who immediately alerted others.

“When the fire was discovered the blaze was so large that it looked impossible to put it out,” the paper explained.

It’s believed the fire ignited from a spark falling from the chimney onto the shingle roof. The paper said the blaze started in the roof of the south part of the building and “leaped many feet into the air.”

“All who witnessed the flames were horrified, especially when the thought of six hundred little children being in the building came to their mind,” the article reads.

It continues, “Mothers we’re frantic and were running from all parts of the town to the burning building. Parents’ love was manifest in no small terms. Shouts were heard from all quarters, ‘Save my boy,’ (and) ‘Save my child.’”

Central School in Rexburg 1910
Central School was the school that caught on fire in Rexburg in December 1910. | Courtesy The Rexburg Standard

Every person in the building made it out alive and “the rejoicing was great enough to bring forth a tear.” It took less than a minute-and-a-half for all the students to get outside.

“When one lady was assured that every person had been removed from the building, she knelt down in the street and offered up a prayer of thankfulness,” The Rexburg Standard said.

The paper noted that Principle J.A. Langton and “his efficient corps of teachers” should be praised for how they handled the situation. The firefighters and citizens who helped extinguish the fire — in 20 minutes they had it under control — were also thanked.

There was $8,000 worth of insurance on the building, and the loss was estimated at around $3,000.


DUBOIS — Carbon monoxide killed two boys, according to The Rigby Star’s Dec. 20, 1934, newspaper.

Lloyd Flowers and Bruce Sykes, of Terreton, were discovered in their parked car in Dubois. Sheriff Harry Rayner said both boys were about 20 years old.

The preliminary investigation indicated that the boys had stopped the car, intending to go to sleep for a “short while,” so they left the motor running. But officials said the gas from the car heater killed them.

“The ignition switch on the car was still on when Sheriff Rayner investigated the case today and the gasoline tank was empty,” The Rigby Star mentioned. “This led him to believe that the motor had run until the gasoline was exhausted.”

Wendell Hoops, 18, found the bodies in the car at a tourist park grounds, which operated during the summer months.

“The bodies were slumped down in the front seat and could not be seen except upon approaching the car,” the paper said.


RIGBY — Two Idaho Falls morticians announced they’d be discontinuing its ambulance services, The Rigby Star said on Dec. 20, 1962.

A.B. Eckersell and Bruce Eckersell said the discontinuation would go into effect on Jan. 1, 1963.

“Beginning in 1928 and covering a period of thirty-four years, they have operated this service to the public at a considerable loss each year,” the article stated. “New regulations are mandatory on ambulances, radio equipment included and boosted insurance rates are adding to the operation of such services.”

The paper said many Idaho funeral firms and funeral firms across the country had withdrawn from the ambulance business, which enabled county, city or private ambulance operations.


POCATELLO — A Pocatello man told police his Christmas decoration was stolen off his property.

The Idaho State Journal reported on Dec. 20, 1976, that Earl Pond’s Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer figure was missing from his front yard.

“Pond said he got the item in New York, and it is the only one of its kind in Pocatello,” the paper said. “It is reportedly valued at $35.”