Biddeford, Saco, ME Fire Destroys Business Section, Sep 1908

Biddeford Fire

LOSS IS $300,000.

SCORE OF TENEMENT BUILDINGS AT SACO, DESTROYED.

FIRE SWEPT OVER 15 ACRES OF LUMBER YARDS -- BLAZE STARTED IN A PILE OF SHAVINGS -- PORTION OF THE SOMERSVILLE BRIDGE WAS BURNED.

Biddeford, Me., Sept. 15. -- A spectacular fire which caused a property loss of $300,000 destroyed more than fifteen acres of lumber yards, more than a score of tenement buildings, several factories and some railroad property early today on both sides of the Saco river in the cities of Saco and Biddeford. A brisk wind fanned a small fire in a pile of shavings in the lumber yard of GEORGE A. CROSSMAN & Sons on the Saco side until it reached extensive proportions, destroying a million feet of lumber in the CROSSMAN yards and the box factory of the concern before it communicated to a small tenement district. The tinder-like formation of the roof of these houses was swept by the wind across the Saco river, alighting upon the extensive lumber yards of the Diamond Match Co. which were eventually destroyed despite the combined efforts of a bucket brigade and the fire departments of both Biddeford and Saco.

On the Biddeford side of the river after devastating the Diamond Match Co.'s lumber piles half dozen additional houses fell prey to the flames but no persons are known to have been burned, either in these or in the almost a score of others which were destroyed on the other side of the stream. More than forty families were rendered homeless. The fire was regarded as a dangerous one even in its early stages and help was summoned from surrounding cities and towns and these places generally responded promptly. The limited facilities of Saco and Biddeford, however, sufficed to bring the flames under control before the outside help arrived. Engines, hose wagons and companies were sent from Portland, Kennebunk, Portsmouth, N. H., Dover, N. H., Old Orchard and Sanford.

Practically all the property burned consisted of easily inflammable material which had been dried through the long-continued drought and the efforts of the united fire departments were necessary in finally subduing the flames which was not consummated until they had secured a headway of several hours and destroyed all the valuable property within reach.

A portion of the Somersville bridge which spans the Saco river between the cities of Biddeford and Saco was destroyed and interrupted to a great extent, the work of the fire companies in shifting from one scene of danger to another. The Boston & Maine railroad lost two box cars and its property suffered considerable damage. The trains were held up for several hours and it was necessary to send those of the eastern division over the tracks of the western division by way of North Berwick to Portland.

It is estimated that the loss of GEORGE CROSSMAN & Sons of Lynn, Mass., owners of the lumber yard and factory first consumed by the fire will amount to about $100,000, that of the Diamond Match Co. through the devastation of their great piles of lumber aggregating more than a million feet will total about $150,000, while the value of the 24 tenements which were burned is believed to be about $50,000. Other incidental losses amounted to several thousand dollars additional.

The amount of the match factory lumber burned was estimated at 3,000,000 feet. The CROSSMAN company lost 1,000,000 feet. The properties were well protected by insurance.

Lowell Sun Massachusetts 1908-09-15