Scarborough, ME Danish Village Building Fire, May 1947

$50,000 Fire Destroys Danish Village Building

125 Routed As Recreation Hall Burns; Stored Furniture Worth Thousands Lost

Scarborough, May 15. (Thursday)--A spectacular general alarm fire which started late Wednesday night swept through the recreation building of Danish Village, former deluxe tourist camp and present housing project, causing damage estimated at $50,000 to the building and additional thousands to a quantity of stored furniture.

At press time today Scarborough firemen had the stubborn, smoky blaze under control, but not before the rear roof and wall sections had collapsed.

More than three-score volunteer firemen from the six Scarborough companies prevented the flames from spreading to the 39 apartments occupied by approximately 125 persons.

The fire had gained considerable headway when it was discovered by Miss Jacqueline Cole of Portland a passenger in an automobile on Route 1.

Starts In Boiler Room

Assistant Fire Chief Henry E. Goold said that the fire apparently started in the boiler room of the building where the central heating plant for the village was located.

Firemen working with four high pressure lines battled the blaze for more than two hours before it was brought under control.

The recreation hall was reported a total loss by Chief Goold. Damaged by water was an adjoining apartment occupied by Mr. and Mrs. William Entwhistle and daughter, Carol, 5. The furniture stored in the building reportedly was owned by a Portland hotel.

Miss Cole said that she noticed the reflection of the fire in the sky "several miles before we came to the village." She said that she and her companion stopped the car, but saw nobody about the grounds. Miss Cole reported that she went to several apartment doors and rang the bells to awaken the inhabitants.

Steeple Topples

First to topple because of the fire was the 25-foot wooden steeple flames from which attracted hundreds of people to the scene, despite low temperatures.

Traffic on Route 1 was snarled for more than an hour and State and Scarborough police were called to keep fire lanes clear.

Mrs. Entwhistle said that she had just finished reading and was preparing to go to sleep when she heard shouts of fire and automobile horns blowing.]

The fire had a good start when firemen arrived on the scene because the two-story brick building was not partitioned.

Most of the families living in the village evacuated their apartments with their personal belongings and took temporary refuge in their automobiles.

The village was built 16 years ago by a Portland hotel and was modeled after a typical village in Denmark. The building damaged in this morning's fire was a replica of a Danish town hall and was used as a dining hall when it was occupied as tourist camp.

It was taken over by the Federal Public Housing Administration in the war and now is managed by a Portland real estate dealer, Clarence A. Sicard, resident janitor, reported.

Portland Press Herald, Portland, ME 15 May 1947