Camden, ME Fire, Nov 1892

On Nov. 10, 1892, Camden village sustained the most disastrous conflagration in its history. The fire started at one o'clock A. M., in the lofty wooden block of Geo. H. Cleveland, located on the east side of Main street where Mr. Cleveland's one story block now stands, and had made considerable headway before the alarm could be given, and when the fire department arrived the water pressure at the hydrants was inadequate and later almost wholly gave out. Driven by a fierce easterly wind from the bay, the flames communicated with the other buildings on the east side of Main street, leaped across to the west side, quickly destroying the stores on that side, crossed Mechanic street to the large Knight brick block which in a few moments went down, burned the row of stores on the northerly side of Elm street, crossed Washington street to Megunticook Hall, which also went down before them, burned the old brick "Estabrook house " and were finally subdued, with the help of the Rockland steamer, in the old " Jones house " owned by Dr. S. Tibbetts. When the flames were gotten under control in the early morning the following buildings with their contents had been destroyed: the Cleveland block, grist-mill and store adjoining, the Burd-Hodgman, Arau and Alden blocks on the east side of Main street; the whole of the section lying between Main street, Mechanic street and Megunticook river, containing about ten business blocks and one dwelling house; the section between Mechanic street and the river east of the "Bakery bridge," containing four or five shops; the space enclosed by Mechanic, Elm and Washington streets, containing some eight business blocks, one dwelling house, the Methodist Episcopal church and chapel, and the engine house ; also Megunticook Hall and the Estabrook house on Elm street. The Jones house was partially destroyed and was re-built. The fire was a grand spectacle, the flames soaring high into the air and pieces of paper and burned shingles were carried by the gale beyond Simonton's Corner. A snow squall coming shortly after the fire began, which covered the roofs of the buildings in the westerly part of the village with a coating of snow, prevented the town from suffering a much greater loss. The cause of the fire was never discovered although a fire inquest was immediately held. It was generally supposed that it caught from the heating apparatus in the basement of the Cleveland block, thence running up through the elevator shaft and bursting out at the roof. In the fire some fifty places of business were destroyed, the fine Masonic and Odd Fellow's halls, the rooms of the Business Men's Association and various other societies, but fortunately but few families lost their homes and none of the large manufacturing establishments of the town were destroyed. The loss of buildings and goods mounted into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, but the owners of both buildings and stocks were fortunately exceedingly well insured, only one small building being without any insurance whatever.

Several town meetings were called immediately after the fire to consider matters relative thereto, the principal results of which were the adoption of a new by-law forbidding the erection of permanent wooden buildings in the business center of the village, and authorizing the purchase of the excellent steam fire engine now owned by the town.

History of Camden and Rockport, Maine, Camden, Me.: Camden Pub. Co., 1907, pages 492-494