1923 - FIRE LEAVES PATH OF RUINS IN SALAMANCA. BUSINESS AREA AND RESIDENCES BURNED; 5 HURT. MANY OVERCOME BY SMOKE AND HEAT AS CONFLAGRATION SWEEPS SALAMANCA, BLASTS SPREAD FLAMES.
3 FIRE DEPARTMENTS ARE CALLED TO SCENE.
CITY HALL, THEATERS AND BIG BUILDINGS LAID WASTE; DAMAGE PLACED AT BETWEEN $500,000 AND $1,000,000.
Salamanca, July 21. - Following a trail of flaring oil and gasoline and urged on its way by a strong west wind, the most disastrous fire in the history of the city swept through business and residential districts today, to subside only after having reduced a wide swath in the downtown section to charred ruins. Damage was variously estimated tonight from $500,000 to $1,000,000.
The west side of Main Street from the river to Broad Street was swept clear of standing structures with the exception of one garage, which was badly damaged but did not collapse. The east side of Main Street half a block of business structures was burned over and the flames ate their way into the residential section in Clinton Street, which joins the business district near the scene of the fire's inception.
Starting with a bonfire in the rear of an abandoned skating rink which was used for automobile storage, the fire had spread throughout the ancient frame building in a twinkling. The flames followed a trail of oil to the gasoline tanks of a nearby garage. Speeded on their way by the resulting flare of the combustible fluid, they spread to other garages clustered in the business district. With the wind at its back the fire was within a few minutes beyond the control of Salamanca's available force of fire fighters. The fire departments of Olean, N.Y., and Bradford, Pa., responded and forces of volunteer fire fighters were rushed from Ellicottville and Little Valley.
The Salamanca City Hall was directly in the path of the flames. It was the first structure to fall. Dynamite in a storeroom of the Walrath Stevens building, adjoining the city hall, helped the spread of the flames throughout the structure.
After leaving Main Street the fire made rapid progress in the residential district. A dozen residences in Clinton Street were burned to the ground and others were damaged. Several small streets leading into Clinton were entirely wiped out.
The fire had been burning for more than three hours when it was brought under control at 6 o'clock.
Five persons were taken to the city hospital suffering from burns and cuts from falling debris, but none was believed injured seriously. Several firemen were overcome.
Among the buildings which were destroyed in the central business district in addition to the City Hall and the Wales & Stevens building which houses several stores, were the Markham building, the Andrews Theater building, the Mulqueen building, several garages, a feed mill and smaller stores and business houses.
It was believed tonight that several days would be required to compile an estimate of the actual loss.
Syracuse, New York
July 22, 1923
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