Swept by Fire

Gray Village Square Swept by Fire Friday Morning

One two-story dwelling, two large stores and several small buildings completely destroyed. One other dwelling some distance away partially burned. Help from Auburn and Portland.

Gray, Dec. 30 – One dwelling house and five other buildings were destroyed by fire which broke out in the rear of George Steven’s Hardware store in this town about 5:30 this morning, causing an estimated loss of about $100,000 in merchandise, furniture, and building property. The progress of the fire was checked by the timely aid received from Portland, Auburn, and Falmouth, when it was stopped at the A.W. Harris residence which was directly in the line of the wind swept fire. Just as the village was about to take a breath of relief, the residence of James B. Hall some distance away suddenly caught fire.

Due to the fact that the small chemical which aside from a bucket brigade comprised the local fire department, had not been replenished since the event of the Jules Barrows fire which occurred last week, it was unable to offer any assistance. All that the townspeople were able to do was to stand meekly by while the fire spread from the Steven’s store to the little confection store of Andrew Antonio and hence to the roof of Cole-Marden’s general store. This building could easily have been saved it is said, had a stream of water been played on the roof, as the sides of the structure were of brick and not flammable.

The Cole-Marsden building not only contained a large amount of dry goods and groceries but was the home of the Siloane Lodge I.O.O.F. and the Sebago Lodge K. of P. Besides destroying the aforesaid barber shop, the blacksmith shop owned by Charles Thayer and occupied by him and George Barrows. For a time the Archie Harris house which was located very near the Cobb house – a two and a half story dwelling owned by Mrs. Nathan Hill and occupied by Andrew Antonio – which was the last to burn, was threatened but was opportunely saved.

Help from Auburn, Portland, and Falmouth arrived soon after 7:30 and by their aid the local people were able to to check the progress of the fire which was constantly fanned by a strong wind. Auburn’s chemical made the run to Gray in about 48 minutes sometime ahead of the Portland chemical which was summoned first and [had] better roads to travel.

About 9:30 when the trucks were preparing to return to their respective cities, they were summoned to put out another fire which had sprung up in the residence of James Hall. As this house was a distance far enough away to prevent it from catching from the sparks of the major fire, it is supposed that the fire started from an over heated chimney.

All of the buildings except the Cole-Marsden Co. store were owned by Mrs. Luther Hill, whose loss was placed at $18,000. This concern’s loss was given at $20,000 on the building which also contained lodge rooms and $10,000 on stock. The loss on the stock in the Stevens store – whose owner, one of the oldest merchants died a few days ago – was $8,000. The value of Antonio’s stock was $5,000. The loss on property was estimated at $4,000.

~ Lewiston Daily Sun, Saturday, December 31, 1921