1883 Fire at Allentown
Following researched & submitted by Craig Braack from Allegany County Democrat 11/21/1883; transcribed by Ron Taylor
FIRE AT ALLENTOWN
BURSTING OF AN OIL TANK
Allentown was visited by a disatrous fire on Friday last, which threatened at one time to destroy the entire business portion of that lively village. At about half past twelve o'clock fire from the boiler at Frank Fox's well, located 200 feet south of his machine shop, on Henry street, was communicated to the gas tank which set on top of a 250 barrel tank of oil. It immediately exploded, tearing to atoms the oil tank, and igniting the oil which ran in a rushing torrent towards Main street, but was stopped before it reached there, by the energetic action of a delegation of live men who threw up an embankment north of the machine shop. The flames, however, communicated to Foster's machine shop, from which it spread to the Franklin Sand Reel Manufacturing Company's building, Weatherby's tank shop, Chamberlain's barn and two houses occupied by Geo. Merchant and J. Springstead. These buildings were all destroyed before the fire was stopped. Assistance was asked of the Wellsville Fire Department who were quick to respond, and the Brooklyn engine, hose and Emerald boys were ready at the depot to depart when word came that the fire was under control.
The following is a list of the losses:
O. Wetherby's tank shop and contents, $1,000; Lechner, Hogan & Fox, machine shop, oil well and 200 barrels of oil, $6,000; Franklin & Huling's planing mill, sand reel and cant factory, $3,000; Wiser barn, $100; Charles C. Chamberlain, barn, tool shop and wagon shed, $300; Ike Springstead, dwelling and barn, $300; John Springstead, money and contents of room, $125; George Merchant's residence and contents, $250.
A subscription was started for the relief of the sufferers and a considerable amount has been subscribed. Had the burning oil reached Main street doubtless the entire business portion of the village would have been laid in ashes.
The fire has aroused the citizens to the neccesity of providing a water supply, and over $500 has already been subscribed towards erecting a 1,600 barrel water tank on the hill north-west of the village.