Manchester, NH Fire Destroys 70 Buildings, Apr 1909

Elm Street Circa 1900 Fighting the Fire


Manchester, N. H., April 8. -- All the worldly possessions of 2000 Greeks, Armenians, French-Canadians and Irish people, many of them either shoe shop or cotton mill employes, were wiped out by a fire today which in two hours swept away 70 buildings scattered over a block bounded by Elm, Auburn, Cedar and Beach streets. The loss is estimated at $100,000.
Nearly every building destroyed was of wood, two and three stories in height, and each was the home of between 20 and 30 families. Starting from a little tenement on the corner of Elm and Auburn streets, the fire swept rapidly along with a mile-a-minute gale as an impelling force. For a time it looked as if the experience of Chelsea a year ago would be repeated in this city, and in fact there was a brief repetition for an hour or two. Men rushed from the shoe shops and sought their homes. Furniture was dragged into the sidewalks only to be licked up the next moment by the flames. Pushcarts were pressed into service to save the few belongings of the families. Women cried and wrang their hands, while children clung to their mothers' skirts and gazed blankly at the great flames and masses of smoke. Confusion extended to the center of the city although the fire was well down to the south part and never proved a menace to the business blocks.
Chief THOMAS W. LANE of the local department, realizing the severity of the situation, summoned help from Concord and Nashua and later from Rochester, Dover, Portsmouth and Lowell.
With the extra assistance a good stand was made on Cedar and Auburn streets, but it was only by wetting down the buildings to the eastward along the line of march that the fight was finally won on Beach street, half a mile from the starting point. The loss rested mainly on the owners of the buildings as the personal loss of the occupants was small individually. It was stated that one man lost his life. The fire was the largest which ever visited the city as compared with the area covered and the number of buildings destroyed, but the property loss was small.

Manchester, N. H., April 8. -- The tenement house district in the south section of the city, covering an area of nearly a square mile and occupied by the cotton mill and shoe shop employes many of them French-Canadians, was in the grasp at noon today of one of the most destructive fires that ever threatened the city. Up to that time three blocks of thirty wooden tenements each had been wiped out. Burning brands were being hurled eastward in countless numbers, smaller fires were apringing up among the other tenements in that direction, men and women were rushing from their work to save their property and the entire city was in confusion.
The local department fought the flames for nearly an hour, but a mile a minute gale proved too great a handicap and help was summoned from Nashua and Concord, and later from Rochester, Dover, Lowell and Portsmouth.
The fire closley resembled that at Chelsea, Mass., a year ago. With a fierce westerly gale behind it, it drove with increasing front steadily to the eastward the flames licking up house after house and block after block.

Lowell Sun Massachusetts 1909-04-08