Volunteer park water tower in Seattle: burnt, melted bricks. Fishing for an opinion.

KorbenDallas

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Came up on a tower today which clearly had extreme fire damaged bricks. Pictures are below. Thinking about writing an article, but wanted to get some opinions first.

The tower was allegedly built in 1906-07. The Great Seattle Fire took place in 1889. Apparently Olmsted Brothers (they were real masters) participated in its creation. Coincidentally they were the ones to design Alaska Yukon Seattle Expo of 1909.

"In their 1903 report, the Olmsted Brothers stated that it would be worthwhile to erect an observation tower in the park at the summit of the hill, since the development of the surrounding neighborhood would eventually block distant views. The prominent landscape firm further stated that the tower should be "high enough to obtain the view" and "large enough to accommodate considerable numbers." By 1906, this suggestion had been combined with the need for additional gravity pressure and for more reliable water service for Capitol Hill, resulting in the construction of the Volunteer Park Water Tower as part of the Olmsted Brothers’ design for the park." - Water/Observation Tower

VolunteerPark1.gif VolunteerPark2.gif Observation_tower_seattle_1.jpg

So basically I am wondering if this tower could be built using bricks like that. And if not, what could have made the bricks boil and melt? On the inside the bricks are normal. Around windows is a weird pattern of normal/melted bricks. Walls of the tower are thick.

I understand building a personal residence with some cool looking bricks, but a water tower... in 1906

melted_bricks_seattle_0.JPGmelted_bricks_seattle_3.JPGmelted_bricks_seattle_5.JPGmelted_bricks_seattle_6.JPGmelted_bricks_seattle_7.JPGmelted_bricks_seattle_10.JPG
melted_bricks_seattle_2.JPGmelted_bricks_seattle_4.JPGmelted_bricks_seattle_1.JPGmelted_bricks_seattle_8.JPG
melted_bricks_seattle_9.JPGmelted_bricks_seattle_11.JPG

In the area there are some real old looking buildings displaying similar traits. First two pictures, it looks like the heat intensity was way lower, but zooming in you can see that the brick is burnt to a boiling point in some areas.

melted_bricks_seattle_12.JPGmelted_bricks_seattle_13.JPGmelted_bricks_seattle_15.JPGmelted_bricks_seattle-14.JPG

Thank you.
 
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KorbenDallas

KorbenDallas

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I’m wondering if it could have gotten damaged in place.

Some googling on brick reuse, “In order to reuse old bricks, you must remove the old mortar. If it is not cleaned properly, a poor bond of the new mortar may result and that leaves the bricks open to water penetration. The task of removing mortar from used brick is a highly labour intensive process that is very hard on the knuckles and can cause damage to the brick.

Almost seems like there is too much design for a simple water tower.
 

ion.brad

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From http://www.amusingplanet.com/2014/03/the-melted-bricks-of-fort-zverev-in.html?m=1:
"In 1970, a devastating fire broke out on Fort Zverev that raged for several weeks. When the fire finally subsided and the fort cooled down enough to enter, the basement was completely unrecognizable. The inferno was so hot that it literally melted the bricks above which dripped down like stalactites. It’s not known what kind of material fueled the fire but from the nature of the damage, it was evident that it was something that burned intensely hot.

In any normal household fire, even a very strong brick does not melt. This requires a long enough temperature not less than 1,800 degrees centigrade. For comparison, a large gasoline fire will produce temperature of about 1,100 degrees. Some speculate that the Russians were testing a new kind of weapon – possibly a high phosphorus containing compound similar to napalm that burned at temperatures in excess of 2,000 degrees centigrade.

According to another version, the fort was a cesspool of lubricants and decommissioned ammunition, bilge water and waste from ships that was accidently set fire by careless tourists. The truth will never be known".

The fragment above shows that you cannot boil a brick with a normal fire. Before suggesting a kind of experiment or a weapon I need an answer for the construction style: when you build a wall you lay down the bricks in such a way that the wall surface to be flat, excepting the case when you wish a certain pattern, like above or below a window.

In the Korben pictures I see a lot of bricks which are partially outside the plane of the wall. They are not one near the other as it would be the case if a part of the building would have been demolished and there are too many and scatered to a too big area in order to be a mistake. Is this kind of building a wall met in other locations? I shall put a brick outside the plane of the wall, from place to place, if I would wish a shock wave disperser in case of the small grenades for example, making the wall to stand a longer time but, finally, the wall will still be destroyed... maybe some testing with some flammable mixings? Unlike Fort Zverev, we have here very big temperatures on too small surfaces... scalar weapons of some kind?
 

The Kraken

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The thing thats getting me is the mortar shows the bricks being this way when laid. Big gaps have extra and some parts have almost a full brick sized sections of just mortar
 

Ice Nine

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Let me introduce you to radical clinkers. Old World Bricks radical clinkers I have seen a lot of houses with these bricks used in outside chimneys and parts of the brick facades. Don't know if that's the answer, but it looks like it could be.

Radical_Clinkers_4.jpg

Check this out to see melted bricks. Wowzer. Melted bricks of Fort Zverev, Russia

*EDIT* More about the Water Tower I found.

Another material flourish that raises the tower above mere utility is the clinker brick cladding. Clinker brick is a brick that has been fired at such a high temperature that it forms a glaze on its surface, and is often deformed in the process. Denser and stronger than typical brick, clinkers are typically used only as architectural accents in a larger field of simpler brick (they are a trademark of Capitol Hill’s Anhalt’s); however, the designer of the tower felt that the robust and rough appearance of the brick was appropriate to the underlying utility of the entire edifice, thus conveying a sense of age, while simultaneously of permanence. The shadow resulting from the deformed profiles of the clinkers, along with their stunningly rich and complex earth tones, help to dematerializes the structure; which, despite its height, fits in perfectly with Volunteer Park’s Olmstedian landscape. As an unintended bonus, their deformed profile lends them a convenient surface to grasp and rest one’s foot, a quality not lost to many a neighborhood rock-jock.

Volunteer Park Water Tower
 
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Paracelsus

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I know exactly what can melt stone like that, I've seen it firsthand. I used to be a volunteer firefighter and went on a downed powerline call. This powerline was actively arcing for minutes by the time I arrived on scene and had managed to land on a rock outcropping. Once the line was de-energized I went up there to catch spot-fires and found pools of vitrified granite. This is a picture of a chunk I took with me.

melted_rock.jpg

I got to talking with the Xcel dude on scene and he said that this line was rated at 15,000 volts. So, full specs are 15,000v at 60hz to melt stone.
 
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KorbenDallas

KorbenDallas

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I got to talking with the Xcel dude on scene and he said that this line was rated at 15,000 volts. So, full specs are 15,000v at 60hz to melt stone.
You think it got zapped?

To me it appeared it was built using this type of brick. Of course the brick could have come from some other destroyed structures.

In general the entire Volunteer Park is a place with a very strange vibe.
 

Ice Nine

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I love the Volunteer Park Conservatory and the old cemetery next door.

I'm pretty sure the Tower was just built using the clinkers after what we have seen now about it and them.
 

Paracelsus

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You think it got zapped?
Oh yeah, one of the most spectacular things I've ever seen, and heard. Being that I've been around fire and electricity, I have a good basis for comparison. On one wildfire I was doing mop up with a hoseline and was near this cliff face that the fire spiraled up against. When you'd directly spray water on smaller rocks they'd explode or crack apart due to the residual heat and cold water temp differential. But they didn't display any burning or signs of vitrification whatsoever.
 
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