Gadsden, AL Fire, Jul 1883

A Gadsden (Ala.) special to the Nashville Banner says: "A most destructive fire broke out yesterday morning, and burned out the following firms: Bellinger & Rolls, W. B. King, Silbert & Ware, general merchandise; R. H. Herizberg, dry goods and groceries: Samuel Henry & Co., general merchandise; W. L. Echols, groceries; Joseph Bevans, drugs; Wilson & Son, dry goods and groceries; Pat Walsh, stoves and tinware; John F. Richardson, confectionery; J. B. Gilmore, confectionery; Charles Hawkins, junk-dealer; William Laycott, groceries; Isaac Stevens, drugs, and O. B. Rolls & Co., drugs. It is impossible to estimate the loss at present. Henry & Co. are probably the heaviest losers, as they did a larger business than any firm in town. The fire raged from Second to Opera street on the South side, and, in addition to the loss by the flames, there was great damage caused by the removal of goods."

The New York Times, New York, NY 6 Jul 1883

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Destructive Fire in Gadsden, Ala.

GADSDEN, Ala, July 4.-Two blocks in the central part of the city, mostly frame store-houses, were burned to-day. Loss, $100,000; insurance, $40,000. H. Herzberg & Co. were the largest losers.

The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia, PA 5 Jul 1883

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Gadsden AL Fire, Jul 1883

"...around noon and the crowds, containing a high percentage of drunks was drifting away, a fire was discovered at a junk store located in a wooden frame house on the corner of Third and Broad. By the time the fire company arrived on the scene, the fire had already broken through the roof of the house and aided by a moderate west wind, quickly ignited the wood shingle roofs of other nearby buildings. The firemen fought the fire as best they could, damaging most of their new leather hose in the process, while store owners carried their goods out into the middle of the streets with drunks hampering the firefighters at every turn. At one point the situation was so bad that police with draw pistols stood guard around the fire engine to prevent interference. The fire engine wasn't the only thing that had to be guarded, as the goods piled in the street were a tempting sight and looting became a problem and more and more store owners carried their goods out of the threatened buildings. The local militia, the Etowah Rifles, were finally posted to guard the goods and were posted the rest of the night and into the following day.

The fire company finally made a successful stand at a three story brick opera house owned by R. B. Kyle, the man most responsible for the Fire Department's existence. Twenty-one businesses and several houses were destroyed, about one half of all the buildings on Broad Street at that time. Most of the damage was to buildings on the south side of Broad Street between Third and Fifth Streets."

History of the Gadsden Fire Department from the cityofgadsden.com

http://www.cityofgadsden.com/Default.asp?ID=265