Bangor, ME Fire, Apr 1911 - Rebuilding


To Start as Soon as Full Account of Fire Loss Is Taken, Says Mayor Mullen.


Property Loss Now Estimated at $6,500,000---Two Lives Lost---Caring for the Homeless.

Special to The New York Times.

BANGOR, Me., May 1.---Nearly half the business section and a large part of the better-class residential section of Bangor are in ruins as the result of yesterday's fire. In all, 100 business buildings, 275 residences, and 6 churches were destroyed. The fire started at 4 o'clock yesterday afternoon and was not extinguished until 8 o'clock this morning.

Only two persons lost their lives. They were John N. Scribner, and aged cobbler, who was crushed to death by a falling wall, and George Abbott, a fireman, who was killed by a toppling chimney.

While all estimates of losses must necessarily partake largely of the character of guesswork, these figures, based on statements of property owners, officials, and insurance men, will give a fair idea of the extent of the disaster, buildings and contents being included:

Business property........................................$5,000,000
Dwellings....................................................... 1,000,000
Public buildings, churches, &c,................. 500,000
Some estimates of the loss are, however, as low as $3,000,000.

Insurance on the property is estimated at 60 per cent.

Street car service cannot be resumed for weeks, while telephone service is crippled for an indefinite period. There is neither gas nor electricity on the east side of the city, and business of all kinds is badly affected.

The sections of the city ravaged by the fire include the business blocks in Exchange Street from York Street to East market Square and in State Street from the Merritt Trust Company Building to Broadway, Park Street its entire length, and a large section of Central and Franklin Streets; The residential part of the city on the west side of Broadway, between State Street and South Park; between the same limits on French Street, and from Harlow Street to the east side of Broadway, between State and South Park.

Plan to Rebuild City.

Mayor Mullen made the following statement to-day:

"Bangor will get its breath and courage, and then we will go right at building again. We are going to find out first how many there are in the city who are without homes, and then we will begin to clean up and open the streets.

"I have received offers of help from Boston, Portland, and other cities, but I believe that we are going to be able to take care of our unfortunate ones without their aid. We shall not accept any aid until we find out that it is absolutely necessary."

When the magnitude of the fire was realized, Mayor Mullen asked for assistance from Portland, Lewiston, Augusta, and Waterville. Brewer had already sent over aid, and Ellsworth had responded with its Chief and men. Hundreds of special police were sworn in to keep the streets clear, and Company I. N. G. S. M., was detailed to protect property and assist the police in preserving order later at night. The cadets from the University of Maine were asked to help, and a delegation came down from Orone.

When dawn broke over the stricken city to-day groups of men, women, and children, made homeless by the fire, could be seen huddled around smoldering bonfires or stretched along the edge of the smoking ruins, endeavoring to derive some comfort from the warmth of the fires and to counteract the effect of the chilly rain that fell throughout the night.

Flames Checked by Rain.

Although the rain brought discomfort to the homeless, it was the means of bringing under control the great conflagration, which spread unchecked for more than seven hours last night. At a time when the battle of the firemen and house-holders against the flames seemed hopeless a providential shift of wind and a downpour of rain drove the fire back over the burned district and drowned out the flames.

Every householder in Bangor whose home escaped destruction opened its doors to his less fortunate neighbor last night, but in spite of this, several hundred were forced to spend the night in the city streets, surrounded by the few articles of clothing and household utensils they had been able to save from the flames.

More serious, however, than the problem of sheltering the homeless was the matter of feeding them, on account of the destruction of food supplies in the retail district. Every morning train brought food to the city, but it was some little time before the authorities could arrange for its distribution.

The fire, which is said to have been an insignificant blaze at the beginning, stated near the corner of Broad and Union Streets, in the vicinity of the City Hall. A high wind fanned the blaze into a fire of terrific proportions, and though the City Hall was saved after the hardest kind of a fight, other public buildings and business structures in the neighborhood were destroyed.

Principal Buildings Destroyed.

The burned area includes about forty city blocks. Neither of the newspapers, The Commercial, the afternoon paper, or The News, the morning paper, was burned out. The Postal Telegraph Company office also escaped destruction.

Among the principal buildings destroyed were the following: Bangor High School, Bangor Public Library, in which were located the banking rooms of the Bangor Savings Bank; Central Fire Station, United States Custom House and post Office, Universalist, Central Congregational, First Congregational, St. John's Episcopal, First Baptist, and Advent Churches; Norombega Hall, including the Gaiety Theatre; Exchange Building, in which was located the Law School of the University Club, Morse-Oliver Building, Haynes and Chalmers Building, Smith Block, Strickland Block, Sterns Building, Graham Building, and Kenduskeag Building.

The New York Times, New York, NY 2 May 1911