Wilmington, NC Orton Hotel Fire, Jan 1949



Wilmington, Jan. 21. -- (AP) -- Fire roared through a 100-room hotel and destroyed six adjacent stores here early today. Loss was estimated at more than $1,000,000.
MRS. HORACE T. KING of Wilmington, reported that her uncle, J. R. MALLARD of Charlotte, had occupied a room in the hotel and that he was unaccounted for. She said her uncle, about 70 years old, was in Wilmington visiting her father, E. F. MALLARD, 67, who is in a hospital here. Whether the aged man had reached safety and failed to notify his relatives could not be immediately determined.
Forty guests of the 75-year-old five-story Orton hotel were routed from their beds but nobody was hurt. The four-hour general alarm fire was checked shortly before dawy, but firemen continued pouring streams of water on the smoking remains.
Other destroyed buildings housed the Royal theater, the GLEN MORE clothing store, PAYNE'S Men's shop, the SALLY ANN dress shop, the Fashion Center and the Cinderella Bootery.
Patrolmen discovered the fire shortly after midnight in the Cinderella Bootery. The flames spread rapidly. All fire fighting apparatus and off-duty firemen and policemen were called in.
Sparks from the wind-fanned conflagration set afire a tug boat in the Cape Fear river and woods across the river from the city. Those fires burned only briefly until extinguished.
Firemen described the fire as one of the worst in the history of this river port.
The 40 guests registered in the hotel had ample time to reach safety, said A. ABRAMS, owner of the building. Police said no one was injured in the fire, which was brought under control about 4:30 a.m. (EST), but two firemen were overcome by smoke and required hospital treatment.
ABRAMS said the hotel, of brick construction, was a complete loss. He valued the building at $200,000. The loss was only partly covered by insurance, he said.
Firemen gave no estimate of the damage to the adjacent buildings. Unofficial estimates, however, said the damage to these structures probably would range up to between $700,000 and $800,000.
The hotel, on North Front street immediately opposite the post office in the heart of the downtown business district, recently had undergone an extensive refurnishing.
Two Marines who assisted in combatting the conflagration suffered minor burns. They were treated at a Wilmington hospital and discharged.
The Red Cross set up an emergency station with a nurse on duty. Coffee was given weary firemen and hotel guests.

The Robesonian Lumberton North Carolina 1949-01-21