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JIM: While flames raged: Great livery stable fire, June 8, 1912

One hundred years ago today, a major part of near Downtown Columbia was in a conflagration the likes of which the town had never seen before. Property losses were devastating. Losses by the Goff Brothers included six surreys, five double buggies, a spring wagon, $250 worth of hay, and a horse. Of those who lived nearby, Hugh Richardson, Dan Clark, George E. Wilson (who resided on the L.C. Hurt property), Tim Collins, L.W. Bennett and Dr. J.N. Page lost their gardens and much fencing; L.C. Hurt's scale house and scales were taken by the blaze, and Dr. J.N. Page "was deprived of eighty frying chickens." Additionally, "All the outbuildings in the neighborhood, including seven barns, were burned." But action to add a modern means of firefighting would await action nine years later. -JIM

By JIM

While the flames raged: the great livery stable fire, June 8, 1912One hundred years ago yesterday - June 8, 1912 - Columbia had a great deal of unwanted excitement.


About nine o'clock that morning while a fierce wind howled--a wind so strong the News called it "a terrific gale"--the Goff Brothers livery stable, located on a back street off Greensburg Street, caught fire, origin unknown. The News reported that within minutes of the hue and cry sounding, "almost the entire town was at the scene, working heroically to save [nearby] buildings."

The livery was already burning beyond any hope, although Elmo Strange and J.W. Coffey were credited with entering the inferno and rescuing six of the horses housed within. However, there were several nearby residences in great peril, and it was to save these structures the good townspeople worked so hard. No fewer than ten nearby homes were threatened; indeed, "some of the buildings caught at different times, but the fire was quickly extinguished by the valiant workers." The household goods were hastily removed from all the homes in an effort to save the chattels should the house go up, but in the haste, considerable damage was done.

Losses by the Goff Brothers included six surreys, five double buggies, a spring wagon, $250 worth of hay, and a horse. Of those who lived nearby, Hugh Richardson, Dan Clark, George E. Wilson (who resided on the L.C. Hurt property), Tim Collins, L.W. Bennett and Dr. J.N. Page lost their gardens and much fencing; L.C. Hurt's scale house and scales were taken by the blaze, and Dr. J.N. Page "was deprived of eighty frying chickens." Additionally, "All the outbuildings in the neighborhood, including seven barns, were burned."

Others whose homes or other properties were threatened at some time or another during the fire included R.H. Durham, F.R. Winfrey, J.T. Barbee and George McLean.

Said the News, "It was the most alarming conflagration this town had witnessed for many years, and every body is thankful that it was no worse. Much credit is due those who fought heroically while the flames raged."

At the time, Columbia had no firefighting apparatus, relying instead on the citizenry to respond en masse to the alarum to form a bucket brigade. It would take another nine years and two more destructive fires on or near the Square before Columbia took action to procure a more modern means. JIM


This story was posted on 2012-06-09 08:09:53
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