1911 August 20
Big damage fire in the Opel plants in Rüsselsheim
In the Opel works near Rüsselsheim, a fire broke out at 1 am on 20 August, 1911, which burned a large part of the factory facilities and destroyed thousands of bicycles and sewing machines. The damage is estimated at four to five million marks. Many fighters were injured. Between 2000 and 3000 workers are affected.
The fire broke out shortly after 1 am at the nickel-plating plant and quickly leaped to the factory premises for bicycles and machines, where soon all the buildings with a surface area of 40,000 square meters formed a single sea of flames. The fire brigades of the whole surrounding area, including those from Frankfurt, moved to the fire-place.
Most of the water had to be drawn through hose lines 800 meters long from the Rhine. The buildings, which date from the founding year 1862, then from the years 1880 and 1909, form a large rubble field. From the high walls stand only few remnants. The business books could be saved.
There are 20.000 bicycles and 30.000 sewing machines burned; Only three sewing machines and about a dozen bicycles could be torn from the fire. Just this year the sewing machine and bicycle department was extremely busy, so it was thought to be able to manufacture 60.000-65.000 machines and 30.000-38.000 wheels.
Of the three night watchmen who had taken the inspection, everything was still intact at 12 o'clock at night. In order to allow further production of the sewing machines and bicycles, the management considers the idea of making a provisional work-bench from canvas.
The motor vehicle factory continues the operation since the machines are all intact. Opel's plant is insured with 6.400.000 marks. The Grand Duchess of Hesse, who is presently at Bayreuth, has sent a condolence telegram to the Directorate of the Opel Works. In the fire, 28 fighters suffered more or less minor injuries during rescue operations. Losses of human life are not to be deplored.