Dover, NH Business District Fire, Sept 1946

$250,000 Damage in Dover Blaze


Dover, Sept. 13--A flash fire destroyed a two-story building in the center of the business district last night and heavily damaged an adjoining four-story structure.

Fire Chief Edward F. Knott estimated loss from the blaze, which for a time threatened the entire upper square business district, at $250,000.

Earlier reports that one or more persons had possibly been trapped in the fire were discounted today by Chief Knott, who said everyone in the buildings had escaped.

Knott said the blaze was a "flash fire" due to sudden ignition of chemicals with which workmen were treating a bowling alley in the ruined building. The bowling alley and the entire stock of the Ross Furniture Co. went up in flames.

The families occupying four apartments in the adjoining building were driven into the street by smoke and water. Farther down the street, a matinee crowd was moved from the Strand theater under the direction of ushers and an unidentified priest who averted a possible panic after someone had rushed into the lobby shouting "fire."

Joseph Michael of Rochester, owner of the razed building, said his loss was only partly covered by insurance. He said he had not yet decided whether to rebuild.

Charles Peabody, operator of the bowling alley, said he returned after the fire and found a pair of trousers, containing a substantial sum of money, hanging on a hook where he had left it when he fled.

Firefighters from Portsmouth, Somersworth and Berwick, Me., were summoned to assist the Dover fire department, and at one time pressure became so low that water had to be pumped from the nearby Cocheco river.

The fire was the worst here since the city hall burned in 1933.

Nashua Telegraph, Nashua, NH 13 Sept 1946