Ellen G. White Writings

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Ellen G. White: The Early Elmshaven Years: 1900-1905 (vol. 5), Page 149

establishment of this institution in Battle Creek in August, 1866.

After signing her name to the pledge list to help get the institution started, she wrote $500. Down through the years she had been very close to the Sanitarium and those who worked there. She was a member of the constituency. Why was it, she was led to ask, that this institution, which had been such a great means for good, should suffer such loss? And as her pen traced the words, page after page, she wrote:

I am instructed to say, Let no one attempt to give a reason for the burning of the institution that we have so highly appreciated. Let no one attempt to say why this calamity was permitted to come. Let everyone examine his own course of action. Let everyone ask himself whether he is meeting the standard that God has placed before him.... Let no one try to explain this mysterious providence. Let us thank God that there was not a great loss of life. In this we see God's merciful hand.— Ibid.

What she wrote on the day of the fire and the few days following showed that she would encourage attitudes that would not impede a work that had proved to be such an effective part of the work of the church. Anxiously the staff at Elmshaven waited for word presenting in detail just what had happened. This in some larger features came in the West Coast newspapers and then in more detail in letters and in the next issue of the Review and Herald:

It was a winter night, with snow quite deep on the ground. The Sanitarium had been ever gaining in popularity, and its main buildings were filled to capacity. Its guest list carried names of business and government leaders. Only a skeleton staff was on duty at four o'clock that Tuesday morning when the fire broke out in the basement of the main Sanitarium building, just beneath the treatment rooms. The two main alarms in the building were set off as well as the nearest city fire-alarm box. Equipment from Battle Creek and nearby cities hurried to fight the blaze. But spreading through the ventilating and elevator shafts, the flames soon enveloped the building, making it clear that it could not be saved.

The nurses and other staff members swung into their practiced fire-evacuation plan, taking first the fifty patients who were unable to get out of their beds, then assisting women and children to safety.

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