Ghosts hover above a house on fire

Seen down Spítalastígur. The white house on the corner used to be Spítalastígur 9, but is now Bergstaðastræti 14. Source

Ísleifur Jónsson, the medium from the previous blog, lived just up the street from Spítalastígur 9. If you read the previous blog, you may remember that he was frequently visited by spirit-beings. His dreams didn't necessarily always involve people. Sometimes they were just dreams or visions of events. He had one such dream in the early months of 1918 when he dreamt he was walking south on Bergstaðastræti and saw the corner house on fire.

Three years later, when the fire occurred on February 14th, 1921, Ísleifur rushed out to see what was going on. At first he felt like he had seen this fire before, but couldn't quite understand why or how. Soon he realized that it was the exact same scene as he saw in his dream three years earlier. There was no doubt in his mind that this was the same fire he had seen in his dream.


Spítalastígur 9 before the fire in 1921. Source

Another premonition of the fire occurred at the Kvaran home on Mjóstræti 2 when the couple had a girl staying with them. Gíslína (Einar's wife) and the girl stayed up late one evening on January 21st, 1921. The two of them were sitting in the living room relaxing and enjoying each other's company.

Mjóstræti 2.

Gíslína was sewing and the girl crocheting.  While they were sitting there enjoying the moment, Gíslína noticed the girl had stopped crocheting and instead was clamping her hands and looking off to the side.
Gíslína sat quietly watching the girl. Something strange was going on. This wasn't a normal behavior for her.

All of a sudden the girl startled and said there was a man there who wanted to communicate something, but she couldn't figure out what he wanted.

Mjóstræti. Across the street from nr. 2 was Rev. Níelsson's home, nr. 3

She had never seen the man before. He was big, stocky and older. He was wearing dark clothes with an Order of the Dannebrog pin on his chest. The man didn't have a beard, but his eyes looked stern. He appeared distinguished with a concentrated look, as if he was used to giving orders, but about what she couldn't tell. It was as if he was a teacher or something similar. The man was looking at the girl sharply. She could tell he was trying to tell her something that weighed heavy on his heart.  She was half-scared and couldn't make out what he was saying. Then he disappeared.

When the girl came back to her normal state, Gislína talked to her about what the girl had seen. Gíslína didn't recognize the man she described. The girl couldn't explain who it was, either, just that he was trying to tell them something and she couldn't figure out what it was.

They continued on with their crafts, but then about 15 minutes later, the girl was back in the same state as earlier.

Gíslína Gísladóttir  (1866-1945)

When the girl came to, she was horrified. She had seen an awful vision. She saw a house burning and a man dying in the fire. In the vision she was standing on the other side of town, somewhere around Skólvarða (the hill where Hallgrím's church stands) or somewhere nearby. She could see the fire from where she was standing. She could see several people who were caught in the fire and got hurt, but she couldn't tell how bad their injuries were. The girl was extremely scared of her vision.

Gíslína could tell the girl was shook up and went over to comfort her. She figured it had to do with the election excitement that was highly elevated at the moment, but the girl thought it was a sign of something bad about to happen.
Gíslína told her husband, Einar, about the incident that same evening. He thought he might know who the man was.

Skólvarða or School cairn, is the white tower to the right. It was torn down in order to make room for the Leifur Eiriksson statue 

My personal speculation is that the man that Gíslína's guest saw in her vision may have been Eufemía's maternal grandfather. His name was Pétur Guðjohnsen and photos of him remind me of the way the girl described him. He was among other things, a man of the Althing (Alþingismaður), school principal, song teacher and organ player for Reykjavik Cathedral.
Einar Kvaran would have known this man. He was very close friend with Eufemía's parents and likely knew her grandfather at some point during his teenage years as a student in Reykjavik.

Pétur Guðjohnsen

Jens B. Waage (1873-1938), his wife  Eufemía Waage (1881-1960) and their friend  Vilhelm Knudsen (1866-1909) were all actors and active in the artist community in Reykjavik. Eufemía was also an author, playwright and spiritist just like her father, Indriði Einarsson.

Her cousin, the medium Indriði Indriðason, was introduced to spiritism while living with them in Reykjavik.

Saturday evening on February 12, 1921, Jens and Eufemía were walking home to Spítalastígur 9 after visiting Vilhelm on Hellusund 6. When they got to Bergstaðastræti, Eufemía slowed her pace. Perplexed, she told her husband she couldn't see their house. This was odd, because from where they were standing, the house should have been right in their line of sight.

Jens couldn't see the house either. A few moments later they saw the house appear in front of them right where it should have been the whole time.  Neither of them knew what to make of this strange experience.

Spítalastígur 9 is the corner house on the right.  Source.

Vilborg Guðnadóttir (1865-1948)  lived on Bjargarstígur 6, only a few houses down from Spítalastígur 9.  On February 14th, 1921, at 10:00 a.m. she looked out her window and saw a house on fire somewhere near Bergstaðastræti. She hurried off to find out what was going on and see how big the fire was. When she got to the burning house on Spítalastígur 9, it was already in flames and falling apart.

Bjargarstígur 6.  Source

As she stood there on the corner where the house was, she felt certain someone was dying inside the house. What made her so certain was the fact that she saw spirit beings soaring above the fire. Vilborg recognized some of the spirit beings. They were the late Eggert Waage (1824-1900) and his wife, Kristín Waage (-1898),  Pétur Guðjohnsen (1812-1877) and his wife, Guðrún S. Guðjohnsen (1818-1899).  This would have been the same Pétur Guðjohnsen (Eufemía's grandfather) who appeared in the girl's vision.

The spirit-beings hovered above the fire and they all had concerning expressions on their faces. Extending from them was a ribbon about an inch wide which reached all the way into the fire. The ribbon was whitish yellow with random darker yellow spots. After watching the ribbon for about 2-3 minutes, she noticed a spirit in Eggert Waage's arms. She couldn't tell who it was but was certain the spirit came out of the fire. At that moment the crowd of spirit-beings became much happier. Then the vision disappeared.

Vilborg left the site of the fire without knowing if everyone made it out safe. A few hours later, her vision was confirmed. A teenage boy had died in the fire. It was Eggert Waage's grandson and namesake, Eggert Waage.

Seen down Spítalastígur. The white house on the corner used to be Spítalastígur 9. It is now Bergstaðastræti 14. The car is driving down Bergstaðastræti.

What actually happened that night on February 14 1921?

On February 14, 1921, the owner of the house, merchant Carl Lárusson, left his house right before 09:00 a.m. and had no idea there was anything wrong. He lived on the first floor. Only moments later, a fire broke out. Most people hadn't gotten out of bed yet and were unprepared.

Once the house caught fire, it was quickly ablaze. In the basement was the goldsmith Baldvin Björnsson's shop. His employees had already started work that morning. When they realized the house was on fire, they rushed upstairs to help the people who lived in the house. They were barely able to get the people out.

Jens B. Waage, actor and accountant.

It only took an hour for the house to turn into ashes and never before had they seen a fire flame up this fast in any house in Reykjavik. The fire crew arrived very late and the water supply wasn't working as well as it should.

The was first believed to have originated in the closet under the stairs around 8:45. Another suspicion was that the fire originated when a fire occurred in the gaseous air that had floated out of a poorly closed pipe. The fire also spread over to a house next-door and severely damage it.

Eufemía Indriðadóttir Waage

The tenants barely made it out. Eight of them escaped with injuries. Six of them were sent to Landakot hospital. A mother and a daughter who lived in the loft apartment suffered severe burns on their hands, one girl threw herself out the window when that became her only way of escape. She broke her arm and suffered a neck injury. A man cut himself severely on glass and was bleeding profusely. Another one suffered severe burns to his back and face.

With how quickly the fire spread, it was lucky that they made it out alive. Many had to jump out windows and were injured in the process.

There hadn't been a bad fire in Reykjavik since the big fire in 1915.

Much anger and frustration was expressed about the delayed response time from the fire department. This in turn caused all kinds of rumors around town. Thankfully, the fire department responded well when they were approached by a journalist and were willing to give clarifying explanations for every account needing one. It turned out that on that particular day, the fire department didn't receive any phone calls about the fire. Upon further investigation it turned out that something went wrong with their phone lines. There were also some issues with the electricity which caused their large water motor-pump to fail.



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