Everything lost in the fire
In 1891, 33 years after the company founding, Crespel & Deiters is stable and on course for continued success. The company had firmly established itself on the starch market. With more than 20 employees, Crespel & Deiters had also become an important employer in the region surrounding the Westphalian town of Ibbenbüren. Business is going well and everyone is optimistic about the future. Then, on this afternoon in the winter of 1891, from one minute to the next, everything changes: A fire broke out and destroyed the entire factory with all machines.
Today, factories and industry facilities are protected by extensive stationary fire protection measures. And the fire brigades have modern and effective equipment. At the end of the 19th century, fire brigades only have a few fire hoses that cannot do much against large industrial fires. The men of the voluntary fire brigade in Ibbenbüren fight the sea of flames tirelessly with everything they have. And yet, despite the valiant efforts of all persons involved, a number of days are needed before the fire is finally extinguished. Smoke and ash is all that remains.
What caused the fire to break out is never determined. During that time, fires in starch factories are not a rare occurrence. Clouds of dust that arise when processing the raw materials can become dangerous. The hot air can ignite during drying. And, especially the steam boiler, which is needed for powering the mill and various other machines, is susceptible for explosions. Whatever the reason for the large fire at Crespel & Deiters, the factory burnt down to its foundation walls. The owners and employees lose their working basis and are faced with ruin overnight.