Springhill, NS Portion Of Town Burns, Dec 1957


Springhill, N.S., (CP) -- A windwhipped fire cut the heart out of this Nova Scotia coal town's business section early today, but Mayor RALPH GILROY said: "We'll carry on if only hlaf the main street is left."
He said Springhill, which lost 39 men in a mine disaster last year, will ask for government aid immediately. "We'll never say die," he said.
GILROY repeated the gloomy forecast he made at the height of the fire that most of the town's business houses would never be built up again.
He estimated the loss at a minimum of a million dollars and said 20 per cent of the town's tax revenue came from the burned out businesses.
"I'm the 13th mayor of this town," he added, "and everything's happened now that can."
The 7,000 people of Springhill had never fully recovered from a 1956 mine explosion that took 39 lives. The colliery where the explosion occurred has been sealed up and the other coal pit has produced only occasionally. A government grant was the only means of averting a threatened layoff several months ago.
The two-block fire burned out 15 businesses and five apartment houses on both sides of Main street. It is believed to have started in a variety store and then fed on paint in a neighboring store, roaring unchecked for 3 hours and 15 minutes.
After the flames jumped the winding main street, racing through frame buildings, there was a period when the whole town seemed threatened.
Great showers of embers scattered over a wide area, setting minor fires. With the small fire department fighting the main blaze, assisted by units from nearby towns, volunteers quenched the embers and the mayor canceled plans to order a general evacuation.

The Portsmouth Herald New Hampshire 1957-12-27