Waterville, ME Fire, Oct 1917
SPECTACULAR FIRE THREATENS WHOLE NORTH END WATERVILLE
900 Canoes and Two Large Ice Houses Burn Two Dwellings Damaged by Flames Two Alarms Sounded and Firemen Have Hard Fight
Waterville, Me., Oct 23. - Fire which was discovered at 4:25 Tuesday afternoon completely destroyed two large ice houses on Hillside avenue owned by Robert L. Ervin and Roscoe L. Knight, burned 900 canoes, the property of the Kennebec Boat and Canoe Company, which were stored in them, damaged the home of Mrs. George Darveau on the same street and of Joseph Lublow on Main street, and for a time threatened the whole north end of the city. Only the fact that there no wind saved a very serious configuration.
Two Alarms Sounded
As it was two alarms were rung in, and all but one of the companies in the city had a hand in fighting the fire before it was under control. The loss on the ice houses was estimated at about $5000, although it is doubtful if they can be replaced for that, and on them was an insurance of $2000 and on the canoes the loss was about $20,000 and is covered by insurance.
The fire was discovered first coming through the roof, and an alarm was at once rung in, before it had finished ringing around the roof of one had fallen in, and it was but a minute before the side walls went into the flames also. In the house where the fire started there were about 100 canoes and those were wiped out as completely and thoroughly as though they had never been there.
The fire when the department arrived was all through the building an was burning fiercely on the roof of the Darveau house and on the roof and side of the Lublow barn. It was quickly seen that there nothing that could be done in the way of saving anything of the the first building an all efforts were directed towards saving the second and the dwelling houses. These were successful in the matter of the houses and the flames on them were taken care of after a short time with very little damage.
In the meantime, however, the fire had jumped across the street to the other house, and as soon as it reached the canoes, this building went up like its neighbor. The smoke was intense and rolled from the buildings and down the streets, driving all but the firemen away form the vicinity of the buildings. The men were also constantly in danger of falling wires, of which a number did come down, and one power pole was burned off coming to the ground with crash.
When the front part of the second building fell, it came directly across the street and carried all the wires there with it. The department worked at its best, and a large number of streams of water were directed on the burning buildings, keeping the flames down and preventing their spread. The fire was finally all out at about 5:40.
These destroyed ice houses were the property of Robert L. Ervin and Roscoe L. Knight, who recently purchased the ice business which was known as the Chalmers plant, consisting of these two buildings, a large stable, ice cutting apparatus and the ice privliges [sic] on what is known as Mulholland brook. They [sic] had planned to go into the ice business extensively this winter and had just completed the work of repairing the dam, which is used to make a large pond of the brook for the freezing of ice in the winter.
The houses during the two or three years that they have not been used for the storing of ice have been used by the Kennebec Boat & Canoe Co. for storing their partly finished canoes. These were being removed from the house which caught fire first and it had been planned by Messrs. Erving and Knight to start work on it Wednesday morning, getting it ready for business this winter. The loss is a very severe one to them, as they were just starting in business and the insurance will not buy them lumber to replace them.
Fire Spectacular One
The fire was a very spectacular one, the black smoke from the burning building rolling high into the aid and at times the flames rose so that they could be seen from Main street. A great crowd quickly collected at the scene but owing to the heat from the burning buildings were kept so well back that the firemen were little hampered in their work. The police department was promptly on hand, and did efficient work in keeping the streets free from autos and teams so that the different pieces of apparatus would not be hampered in laying hose and getting to the fire.
The quickness with which the fire did its work was a great wonder to everyone. One man who was directly in sight of the first building said that he was standing talking with a man, and was looking at the building a moment before the alarm rang in and as the first stroke came, he looked around and saw the building all in flames and the roof already falling in. When the firemen arrived, and they made a quick run, the roof was going in and the walls quickly followed it.
The damage to the Darveau home and to that of Mr. Lublow was small and both were covered by insurance. Mrs. Darveau had just placed the insurance on her home Monday, acting on the advice of a friend who did not wish her to go longer without it.
Daily Kennebec Journal, Augusta ME 24 Oct 1917