Fall River, MA Business Area Fire, Feb 1928
FALL RIVER BUSINESS AREA BURNS.
SIX BLOCKS DESTROYED WITH LOSS EXCEEDING $15 MILLION.
ENTIRE CITY MENACED.
FIREMEN FROM AS FAR AS PROVIDENCE, BOSTON AID FIGHT.
Fall River, Mass., Feb. 3. (AP) -- The business district of this city, one of New England's greatest mill centers, lays in ruins today. Only a few gaunt walls stood in an area of five blocks which was swept by fire last night and early this morning.
The loss was estimated by the Mayor and police chief as between $7,000,000 and $12,000,000. Some insurance men thought it might run as high as $25,000,000.
There was no loss of life. Several firemen and others were slightly injured by falling walls and the effects of smoke. Two thousand workers in offices, banks, hotels and stores were without employment today.
All Night Fight.
Starting at the corner of Pocasset and Main Streets, the flames swept northward to Bank Street and eastward to Rock Street. They destroyed three hotels, six banks, two theaters, a church, a newspaper plant and several office and store buildings.
Firemen from all cities and towns in the vicinity and from as far away as Providence and Boston helped in the all night fight. It was 2:30 A.M. before they were assured that the flames would not spread into the residential district and result in a still greater conflagration.
The fire started in what was formerly the No. 1 mill of the Pocasset Manufacturing Company. The four units of this abandoned textile plant were in process of demolition.
It was the oil-soaked floors of the old mill that gave the flames their tremendous force at the start. A strong wind carried burning embers long distances. Almost immediately the Fall River Fire Department realized that it could not cope with the fire and hurried calls for help were sent out.
This was early in the evening. Downtown theaters were filled. Warning was given to the audiences and they filed out without panic. Guests at hotels in the path of the flames were notified in time to leave before the fire reached them.
Communication Cut Off.
Relentlessly the wall of flame pushed forward into the heart of the business district. At the height of the fire all communication with outside points was cut off. The Western Union and Postal Telegraph Companies lost their quarters. The telephone exchange on Bank Street was saved but the operators were ordered out when it appeared that the building would go. They returned this morning to find everything intact but a church wall leaning against one side of the building.
The principal buildings destroyed were:
Bay State House.
Massasoit-Pocasset National Bank.
Metacomet National Bank.
Fall River Co-operative Bank.
Troy Co-operative Bank.
Peoples Co-operative Bank.
Granite Building, largest office building in the city.
Old Fall River Herald Building.
The Fall River Independent, French language Newspaper.
New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad Terminal.
The plant of the Fall River Herald-News suffered extensive damage, mostly from water, and the paper was printed today at the plant of the New Bedford Standard. The building of the Fall River Globe was the halting place of the fire at one end. Its press was made useless by water but its other equipment was undamaged. The plates were made here and the paper today was printed at the plant of the Taunton Gazette.
The city hall, post office and customs buildings were saved. Flying embers started many fires in distant parts of the city, one of these destroying the tower of the Merchants Mill, two miles from the business district. Little other damage was done by these fires.
State police and a detachment of coast artillery helped patrol the city and no disorder was reported. Boy Scouts and Salvation Army workers provided food and coffee for the firemen.
Syracuse Herald New York 1928-02-03