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Turning Back the Pages

Mystery fires cause havoc

Two fires in Warrensburgh occurring within two hours after midnight June 3, 1912 in different parts of the town, completely destroyed three buildings and their contents and badly damaged a fourth, leaving six families homeless.

The first and most destructive fire started in the living rooms of R.B. Millis in his store and residence building in Lewisville (River St.) and quickly gained headway. The cause is a total mystery. Mrs. Millis discovered her kitchen a mass of flames and in her excitement she ran barefoot to give the alarm and her feet were severely cut by broken glass.

The nearby mills did not carry enough steam to blow their whistles at that hour and no alarm was sounded until the sexton of the Methodist Episcopal church was able to ring the church bell.

The flames spread to Herrick’s store building on the east where the families of James G. Herrick and Ernest Whipple lived in apartments on the second floor. The residence of Sanford Young (“Under the Elms”) was badly scorched.

The fire quickly spread to the residence of Daniel J. March. Part of the building was occupied by his sister Dora March and his mother and the flames spread so quickly that little was saved.

Everything was taken from C.A. Bowen’s store adjoining the March property which was occupied by Rose and May Burdick who were away from home. The street was lined on both sides by goods and household effects removed by a large crowd of willing volunteers.

While attempting to remove a live electric light wire which had fallen in front of the burning buildings, Alex Smith was caught in the circuit and for a number of seconds before the wire could be removed he laid in the street groaning with intense agony. The thumb of his right hand was burned so badly that it is thought amputation may be necessary.

Readers are welcome to contact Adirondack Journal correspondent Jean Hadden at jhadden1@nycap.rr.com or 623-2210.

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