On This Day In Frostburg/FFD History

November 16, 2013 Events  No comments



Properties Were Owned By George H. Wittig Estate and Mrs. LaPorta

Frostburg November 17 – Three large frame buildings, housing six places of business and three families, were almost completely destroyed late last night by a fire with a loss estimated at approximately $40,000.  Two of the buildings were owned by the George H. Wittig estate and the other was the property of Mrs. Anthony LaPorta. The fire, which originated in the basement of the John D. Rees meat market, in one of the main business sections of the city, spread rapidly in for a while it was feared that the entire block would be wiped out. The alarm was sent in around 11 o’clock and by 11:30 the building was a mass of flames. About 50 members of the Frostburg Fire Department fought the flames for over three hours before they were able to get the fire under control.  High winds and below freezing temperature hampered progress along with the fact that the buildings were all of old frame structure.

Blamed on Gas Heater

According to Mr. Rees, who stated he left his market about 10:00pm the fire is believed to have been started by an automatic gas heater in the basement. The first building to go was the one occupied by Mr. Rees and Joseph Parise, who ran a news stand and confectionery store. Above the storerooms was a three room apartment occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert Minnick, who lost everything.  The flames spread next to Louis Pavello’s produce market completely destroying the storeroom and the apartment adjoining, where he and his wife resided.

LaPorta Loss Heavy

LaPorta’s Barber shop represented perhaps the greatest single loss with the entire building gutted and practically all of the equipment destroyed either by flames or water. This building is owned by Mrs. Anthony LaPorta, who resided in a modern six room apartment on the second floor with her two sons and two daughters. The barbershop was one of the most modern in the city in the building had undergone extensive improvements several years ago. One bedroom suite and wearing apparel were all that was saved.

Nick Quarucci’s shoe shine parlor and shoe repair shop, in the LaPorta building, sustained a heavy loss with very little of the stock and equipment saved. The fire was checked as it reached the Wittig building on the corner of Maple and Main streets occupied by Walter Powell, city street commissioner, who operated a hardware store on the first floor and tin shop on the second. Mr. Powell was able to save the largest part of his equipment and stock.

Three Firemen Burned

Harry Snyder, Carl Nickel and Melvin Lemmert were severely burned about the face and hands, when they were thrown into the flames by the explosion of an ammonia tank in the rear of the Rees market. An oddity about the fire was that all of the plate glass windows in the storefronts remained intact while the buildings were almost completely destroyed. Firemen remained at the scene all night and at 4:00am the flames broke out a second time over checked in a short while. The losses in some cases were partially covered by insurance but in others, no insurance was carried.

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