On This Day In Frostburg/FFD History

May 17, 2014 Events  No comments



SCAN1215Blaze Discovered at 5:45 o’clock – Raged for Five Hours – Business Section is Threatened – Lonaconing, Midland and Cumberland Firemen are Called and Help to Extinguish Fire – Woolworth and Stanton & Son Heavy Losers.

Frostburg, May 17 – The Lyric Theatre building on Main Street, valued at $50,000, was practically destroyed by fire, which was discovered at 5:45 O’clock this morning, and which raged for several hours and threatened at one time the entire business section of Frostburg. The fire was discovered by Hugh Spier, who turned in the alarm.

The Frostburg Fire Department under Chief Bernard Hughes, aided by the Lonaconing and Midland Fire Departments and Engine Company No 1, from Cumberland Fire Department got the fire under control at 10 o’clock after the hardest kind of work. An appeal for outside help was made by Mayor Olin R. Rice at 6:30 o’clock.

Only Walls Standing

Only a shell of the building remains and a portion of the roof. The Lyric building, a two-story and half brick structure, which was formally the Moat’s Opera House an addition built on the rear. It was owned by Harry R. Colborn and Frank Watts. The loss was practically covered by insurance.

Tenants Lose Heavily

The first floor store-rooms were tenanted by F. W. Woolworth’s 5 & 10 cent store, Louis Stanton and Son, hardware merchants and Thomas Elias, Tailor. Two upstairs apartments were occupied by Miss Sarah Cronweil and L. R. Ash. The Lyric Theatre, a moving picture house occupied the addition built in the rear of the original building. The King Arthur Club had headquarters in the theater side.

Fire Originated In Cellar

The fire is believed to have originated in the basement beneath the Woolworth store, in the boiler room and gradually spread through the old walls to the roof where it burst out in a sheet of flame. For nearly an hour the fire raged in the basement of the building and withstood all attempts of the firemen to extinguish it although the firemen deluged the cellar continuously. Considerable anxiety was fell over the fear that a quantity of dynamite and shells and ammunition was stored, it is said, in the cellar of the Stanton store. The explosives were removed promptly before the fire gained headway in that portion of the building.

Sends Cumberland Home

When it was seen that the fire was gaining headway help was asked of nearby towns and Good Will Company at Lonaconing and its truck responded with a number of men under acting Chief Richard Waddell at 7 o’clock and immediately began work. At 7:40 the big pumper and chemical truck from Central Station sent by acting Mayor John J. Stump from the Cumberland Fire Department in charge of Fire Chief Reid Hoenicka arrived. Through some misunderstanding some citizens came up and informed Chief Hoenicka as his men drew out there hose and made ready to assist that the fire was under control and their services were not needed. Chief Hoenicka immediately loaded up his hose and returned to Cumberland. Later when Mayor Rice was informed of the circumstances he telephoned to Cumberland urging that the big pumper be returned and at 9 o’clock the Cumberland firemen again returned, went to the rear of the Lyric Building and with Chief Hoenicka in charge, assisted in extinguishing of the fire.

The alleged discourteous treatment of the Cumberland firemen caused considerable criticism in Frostburg. It being declared that the fire could have been extinguished sooner, and their departure had crippled the other firemen. During the fire, the Frostburg Civic club served coffee and sandwiches. At 8 o’clock a detachment of Midland firemen arrived and took part in the fire fighting. John Miller, a Frostburg firemen, sustained a severe gash on that the arm while handling a nozzle on the flames.

Estimate of Losses

At noon today, the estimate of losses given were: Woolworth’s store, $20,000; Stanton and Son, $15,000, and Thomas Elias, $3000. Manager Adolph G. Frey of the Lyric Theater, estimated his loss at $5000. The building owners and the tenants stated their losses were nearly covered by insurance.

Near Blaze of 1917

The scene of the fire adjoins the property earned in February 1917 when the Shea building and others were destroyed with heavy loss. There was complaint of the Frostburg firemen that the pressure was low, which handicapped them in the early beginning of the fire.

Editors Note: This is the second of three fires that destroyed this building. Completely burned in 1874 and again in 2004; both on February 2nd.

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