Rekindles

fire history of 1911


BANGOR, ME: MAY 1, 1911 – A late-afternoon fire that began a day earlier was finally brought under control after midnight. The blaze originated in a hay shed near the corner of Broad and Union streets, apparently started by a cigarette cast aside during a poker game. The flames swept northward...


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BANGOR, ME: MAY 1, 1911 – A late-afternoon fire that began a day earlier was finally brought under control after midnight. The blaze originated in a hay shed near the corner of Broad and Union streets, apparently started by a cigarette cast aside during a poker game. The flames swept northward, fanned by a strong wind. The fire continued spreading north along Broad Street before leaping across the Kenduskeag Stream and continuing along Exchange Street. Firemen struggled to gain a foothold, but had little effect as the wall of fire destroyed everything in its path. Lost to the flames were banks, office buildings, the post office and high school, numerous commercial structures, seven churches and even the Central Fire Station. The new City Hall was spared as flames went over and around the building. Help arrived in the early evening when firemen from Augusta, Lewiston, Portland and Waterville joined the effort. Sadly, two firemen were killed battling the flames. Fireman George Abbott was killed by a falling chimney and Fireman John Scribner was pinned by a collapsing wall.

PLAINFIELD, NJ: MAY 4, 1911 – An attic fire at the well-known estate of Mrs. Frederick Mead on East Front Street threatened the loss of both the house and its contents. As firemen pressed the attack on the flames, a contingent of society women rushed around the home safeguarding and removing valuables from possible fire and water damage. When the smoke cleared, more than $100,000 in damage was estimated on the roof and attic areas.

LAKE BLUFF, IL: MAY 7, 1911 – Fire broke out on the third floor of the Methodist Deacons’ Orphanage just after 8 P.M. Heroic nurses braved the thick smoke and heat to pull children from their beds and carry them down the stairs. As firemen arrived, a roll call of the orphans was taken and it was realized one child had been left behind. One nurse, Luella Hilger, yelled she would get him. Conditions were so bad that several men tried to hold the nurse back, fearing she would be killed in the flames. The nurse broke free, then dashed up the stairs and crawled down the smoke-filled hallway to the child’s room. In the meantime, Fireman Schinsky had entered a window by ladder and found the child. He handed the unconscious child to the nurse and continued searching. The nurse rushed the 2-year-old boy outside, but the child, already quite sick with pneumonia, died from smoke inhalation.

EAGLE MILLS, NY: MAY 8, 1911 – A fire originating in a gasoline heater ignited the Church of Christ at 12:45 in the afternoon. The house of worship was quickly filled with flames as firemen struggled to gain control. The fire spread rapidly and brands were carried an eighth of a mile, setting fire to a barn on the banks of the Poestenkill Creek. Adjoining buildings were soon burning and radiant heat ignited several dwellings on the opposite bank. Firemen used telephones to request help from nearby Troy, which sent two of its steam pumpers. The fire was brought under control in four hours.

YAMAGATA, JAPAN: MAY 9, 1911 – This town, the capital of Yamagata Prefecture, was swept by a fire that destroyed more than 1,000 homes. Reports also indicated that banks, schools, a courthouse and government building were all lost to the flames.

UTICA, NY: MAY 21, 1911 – A woman mistakenly filled a lamp with gasoline before climbing the stairs to the second floor where her children were asleep. As she ignited the wick, the lamp exploded across the nearby two-gallon gasoline container that immediately burst into flames. Her husband quickly extinguished the woman’s burning dress before he dashed up the flaming stairs to rescue his five daughters. He moved the children to a window, leaped to the ground and stretched his arms up imploring them to jump. Before they could comply, flames swept through the room, killing them all.

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