Kingstree, SC Downtown Fire, May 1908

Fierce Fire In Kingstree

Three Stores Totally Destroyed--Splendid Work of Townspeople Prevented Further Loss

Special to The State.
Kingstree, May 17--About 2:30 o'clock this afternoon the church bells and fire bells of the town rang out the alarm of fire and almost the entire population of the town were soon at the corner of Main and Academy streets, where the fire broke out, to witness the beautiful but tragic sight. The fire is thought to have started in Thompson & Lesesne's grocery store and rapidly spread to Meyer's bakery and Pendergrass Brothers' general merchandise store, immediately adjoining, all of which were totally destroyed. The insurance was not sufficient to cover the loss sustained by any except Pendergrass Brothers, whose loss is little or nothing. Stackley's store, immediately across the street, was in great danger, and two large plate-glass windows were broken by the heat, the awnings were burned and a small portion of the stock damaged. This loss is entirely covered by insurance. The telegraph office, which was in the second story of Meyer's bakery, was of course entirely destroyed. Telephone wires are down in the neighborhood of the fire, the poles having caught fire.
The volunteer fire department did splendid work, under the direction of the competent foreman, Mr. Thos. McCutchen. The hose of the engine was not nearly sufficient to carry the water needed and the rest of the water supply had to be furnished by buckets carried from the artesian wells nearby. Even the ladies of the town assisted in carrying water.
Everyone showed great presence of mind, and there was no energy misdirected or thrown away. The crowd worked quietly but rapidly and thus succeeded in saving the adjoining buildings which were all brick. The buildings which were burned were all of wood, and from the standpoint of beauty, the fire will be an improvement to the town as under a new ordinance, only brick buildings can be built in the business part of the town. But the sight of the licking, hungry flames was a terrible one, and the heat was terribly intense. One or two men who had been in the thick of the fire were prostrated. The fire was a short one, and by 4 o'clock nothing was left but a few smouldering ruins.

The State: May 18, 1908