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Atlanta, GA Oil Tank Explosion & Business District Fire, Feb 1901

Half A Million Dollar Fire.

Atlanta The Sufferer By That Amount.

Explosion of an Oil Tank Started the Fire-List of the Firms That Lose.

Atlanta, Feb. 21.-Fire in the business portion of Atlanta, bounded by Decatur, Lloyd, Wall streets and Railroad avenue, this morning destroyed property aggregating half a million dollars.

The fire started from the explosion of an oil tank in the wholesale grocery house of J.J. and J.E. Maddox, and soon spreading to the adjoining building. The principal losers are:
J.J. and J.E. Maddox, wholesale groceries, $60,000.
John Silvey & Co., dry goods, $75,000.
Markham House company, $35,000.
Draper-Coggins Shote company, $25,000
R.N. Fickett Paper company, $25,000.
Arnold Hat company, $50,000.
Dickinson & Davidson, $25,000.
McConnel & Christopher, $30,000.
Grambling & Spalding, $75,000.

Fort Worth Morning Register, Fort Worth, TX 22 Feb 1901

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Markham Block Burned Again

Atlanta Has a Half Million Dollar Fire.

Was Opposite The Depot

But the Historic Shed Was Not Even Scorched. Loss is Partially Covered by Insurance.

Atlanta, Feb. 21.-A fire in the business portion of Atlanta, bounded by Decatur, Lloyd and Collins streets and Railroad avenue, destroyed property aggregate half a million dollars. This is the Markham block, which was burned once before in 1895.

The fire started from the explosion of an oil tank in the wholesale grocery house of J.J. & J.E. Maddox, on Lloyd Street, and the flames, fanned by the high wind, spread rapidly to adjoining buildings.

The explosion shook the buildings for several blocks and sounded like the bursting of a huge gun. It is not known what caused the explosion.

During the progress of the fire several minor explosions startled the crowd, but nobody was injured.

Estimate of loss:
J.J. & J.E. Maddox, stock $35,000; building $35,000.
Two stores valued at $38,000.
Arnold Hat Company, $50,000.
Draper-Coggins Company, $80,000.
Two stores belonging to Mrs. A.E. Grambling and R.D. Spalding, $36,000.
Pickett Company, $25,000.
Grampling Spalding Shoe Company, $60,000.
Two buildings nearest Decatur Street, owned by John Silver estate, $36,000.
Dickinson-Davidson Hardware Company, $25,000.
Three houses on Collins Street, $27,000. The furniture in these buildings was worth in the neighborhood of $25,000.
The insurance is estimated to cover about two-thirds of the loss.

Owners of all the burned buildings say today that they will rebuild.

The entire fire department was summoned to the scene and by hard work had the flames under control by 10 o’clock.

The firemen when the alarm was turned in at 5:45 could not get into the Maddox stores, nor could they find the watchman, who was supposed to patrol the outside of the building. This delayed the firemen in the work some time, and it was nearly fifteen minutes later before water was turned on the fire.

This was the coldest morning of the winter, and the firemen were considerably hampered by the water freezing to their clothes.

Fire Chief Joyner puts the responsibility for the heavy losses on tremendous explosions of oil and syrup which blew up the Maddox Grocery Company’s building soon after the fire was discovered, and on the fact that the owners of the adjoining buildings which fronted on Lloyd street, failed to put fire shutters on the doors and windows of the fire proof walls. The explosions, he said, sent burning rafters from the Maddox building against the adjoining buildings and set fire to the window and door frames in the walls, whence the flames leaped inside and caught the inflammable stocks of five store houses simultaneously. Had the windows and doors been protected, he claims, the fire might have been confined to the Maddox building alone.

The fire started about 5:45 a.m. from and unknown source, perhaps a spark from a passing switch engine, in the building occupied by the J.J. & J.E. Maddox Grocery Company, fronting on the Georgia Railroad. The absence of the night watchman, J.A. Pruitt, allowed the tiny flame to spread unnoticed until the interior of the building was full of fire and smoke. Then a policeman on Lloyd Street saw smoke issuing from the windows and ran to box 42, at the corner of Lloyd and Decatur, whence he sent the alarm into fire headquarters.

Columbus Daily Enquirer, Columbus, GA 22 Feb 1901



article | by Dr. Radut