|"Sioux Falls Argus Leader," March 8, 1978, via Newspapers.com|
Most cases of "mystery fires" are blamed on mischievous adolescents or disgruntled servants. Putting responsibility on the household furniture is a welcome novelty. From the "Minneapolis Star Tribune," March 8, 1978:
Duluth, Minn.--Steve Curtis says four fires in the vicinity of an old desk he owns is enough.I haven't been able to find any follow-up stories, so it's anyone's guess what became of the firebug desk.
"I want to get rid of this for sure. No way will I keep it," Curtis said after fire heavily damaged his new house Monday.
Fire officials blame the 8 a.m. fire on a short circuit in electric lines under the kitchen floor. But Curtis and his relatives--who say they have seen three other houses burn down around the desk--don't care. All the fires started near the desk.
"That damned desk. We're all through with it now," said Curtis' mother, Rose Juntenen. The desk was in a house, a former Methodist church, the family bought 20 years ago in Carlton, Minn., and was given to Curtis.
In 1973 the house was destroyed by fire, but the desk and three other pieces of furniture survived. The desk was moved to Curtis's house in Cloquet, which burned down a year later. Again the desk remained intact.
Last June Curtis asked his brother-in-law, Rick Thyen, to store the desk at his home in Rice. In December that house was destroyed by a fire that started in a hallway where the desk was standing.
The desk was not damaged.
At this point Juntenen got worried and urged the family to "get rid of the desk."
But when Steve moved into a new home in Duluth, he took the desk with him. Less than a week later, fire struck.
He awoke Monday smelling smoke and ran out to see the kitchen ablaze, just a few feet from the desk. Damage was $1,000 to the house and $1,000 to the contents. The desk was unmarked.
"I'm taking any offer I can get," said Curtis, who says at least one antique dealer valued the desk at $3,000-$5,000.
"I'm sure a desk can't start a fire," said Thyen, "but it sure makes you wonder, doesn't it?"