Gardiner, ME Fire, Aug 1882



GARDINER, Me., Aug. 7.---The most extensive conflagration that ever visited Gardiner began a little before 7 o'clock this evening in Moore & Brown's planing mill, on Bridge-street, near Water. A cluster of manufactories are located on the "Lower Dam" on the Cobbosse stream at this point. The wind blew the flames away from the main business street into the saw mills and foundries. Owing to the protracted drought and the inflammable nature of the buildings this part of the city was a perfect tinder-box, and in a few minutes the row of factories along Bridge-street was in flames. It was found that the local fire department was inadequate to cope with the flames, and help was called from the adjoining towns, which responded promptly. A high wind now set in and drove the fire with great fury down Bridge-street, eating up the tenement houses in its path like melting snow under the tropical heat of midsummer. The fire made a clean sweep of the east side of Bridge-street and then leaped across that thoroughfare into High, Middle, and Spring streets, which run at right angles up the hill. These three streets were covered with residences, mostly of wood, many of them being occupied by people of the laboring class. The engines experienced great difficulty in getting water and could make no stand against the advancing flames. The fire burned all the way up High-street to the Methodist Episcopal Church, which was saved after a gallant fight. The fire swept off to the northward, destroying the dwelling along Middle and Spring streets, a thickly populated district. The streets were full of men, women and children, hurrying teams, and shouting firemen. The flames advanced with great rapidity, leaping from house to house. Many families saved only the clothing in which they escaped from their burning homes. Houses were torn down to stay the progress of the fire, which was got under control about 10:30 o'clock, after extending half-way up Spring-street.

About 20 acres were burned over. All the manufactories on the Lower Dam were swept away. Between 300 and 400 men were thrown out of employment. Sixty dwelling-houses were destroyed. The loss will be over $200,000, while the insurance will not reach half the figure. As soon as the ruins cool the work of reconstruction will begin. Large crowds of people flocked to the city to witness the grand spectacle. Large numbers of looters plied their nefarious vocation. While the blow to the business interests of Gardiner is severe, the chief cause of regret is the suffering which must necessarily ensue among those burned out. It is reported that an old lady named CLUFF perished in the flames, and that a man was killed by falling into an excavation.

The great fire of 1857 started almost in the same locality as that in which the present fire originated. The chief sufferers are Moore & Brown, planing-mills, $7,500; James Nash, furniture factory, $6,000; Wadsworth Brothers, furniture factory, $6,000; Walker & Marcy's saw-mill, $12,000; H. W. Jewett & Co., planing-mill and saw-mill, $15,000; P. S. Robinson, sash and blind factory and planing-mill, $8,000; Joseph Perry, machine-shop, $8,000; C. A. Robbins, machine-shop and foundry, $8,000. The insurance cannot be obtained to-night.

The New York Times, New York, NY 8 Aug 1882