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Fact or Fiction? Fire Threatens Business District Tuesday Morning PDF Print E-mail
Written by Holyoke Enterprise   

These stories from local history are sometimes so extraordinary it’s hard to believe they actually happened. Check out ‘fact or fiction’ stories: they’re actual Enterprise news clips reprinted from the past.


Fire completely destroyed the Pete Jones livery stable and the Town Hall early Tuesday morning. The fire, of unknown origin, was discovered about 3:15 a.m. The alarm was turned in but the buildings were past help before the siren could sound out the warning.

The fire department was on the job in record time and was able to confine the fire to the two buildings. As the barn was well filled with straw and hay the blaze spread almost instantaneously. By the time the first whistle blew the entire town was quite light and before the second call was finished it was nearly as light as day anywhere for a mile.

Folks from the country said that it was quite light as far out as two and three miles.

The wind was from the north and as the flames leaped high into the air the burning embers and large sparks drifted in perfect showers for two and three blocks south. One small blaze was discovered at the back of F.M. Smith drug store but was quickly extinguished.

The Beatrice Cream Station was saved even though it sides right up to the old town hall. Fire broke out in the walls of it, beneath the tin covering which caused the firemen considerable work but it was extinguished without much loss. The Bruce Waln Motor Co. received no damage.

It was necessary for the firemen to remain on the chilly job until after six o’clock before their work was over. They suffered quite seriously from the cold and chilly wind as they were wet and but few had on either socks or shirts. Nevertheless they stuck to the job and protected the property while the remainder of the town went back to rest.

This is the first fire alarm since early in the summer when the department was called out one afternoon because of a small blaze in the ice plant. Many pronounced this to be the biggest blaze the town had experienced in many many years.

Due to the frame structure of the old buildings as well as the nature of the contents of the barn there was no chance of doing more than confining it to the original buildings.

Mr. Jones, who lives right next to the barn, was wakened by the noise of the fire and said that it was well under way then. An old buggy was saved. The horses had been turned out in the corral for the night so there was no loss of livestock. The remainder of the contents were destroyed. The loss was covered by insurance.

Quite a crowd of spectators, both men and women, gathered to witness the blaze and braved the chilly wind until the main danger was over.

The fire truck left the power house within an extremely short time after the first call, manned by five men, Ray Miell at the wheel and supported by Lynn Wettstein, Henry Kepler, Ralph McDonnall and Joe Dilley.

Had any serious fire broken out in the block south it certainly would have proven disastrous as all the hose was out and then only two nozzles in action. That the department is dangerously short on hose equipment was clearly demonstrated as it required the well directed efforts of all the equipment to control the blaze and at the same time a perfect shower of sparks was covering the town, including part of the business section for at least two blocks south.

The Bruce Waln Garage was cleared of all cars, tires and such equipment as a safeguard though no damage was done to the building.


Holyoke Enterprise

November 24, 1927