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Clark Brothers Machine Shop Burns in Belmont, N.Y.

Researched and transcribed by Stephen Sweet.
From The Andover News, May 17, 1912:

Clark Brothers Machine Shop Burns

Belmont's Leading Industry in Ashes---Spontaneous Combustion Cause of Disastrous Fire --- Will Rebuild at Once

Belmont, N.Y. May 11 - Fire destroyed the machine shop, foundry, pattern shop, engine room, draughting rooms and office of Clark Brothers company early this morning. The pattern store house with all of the patterns were saved, as were also the other warehouses, containing finished machinery and parts and the store houses of rough and finished castings. The books and records of the business and complete drawings of the machines which the company manufactures, are intact.

Clark Brothers Machine Shop, Belmont, NY
Clark Brothers, Belmont, N.Y.,  in 1908 (before the fire). Photo courtesy of Jane Pinney.

Fire was discovered by the night watchman near a coal bin by the engine room, about 3 a.m. The shops had been shut down for two days for repairs to the boilers and furnaces and there was no steam to blow the whistle which is the way alarms of fire are usually given in Belmont. The night watchman is a Sweed and speaks little English, but finally succeeded in rousing people living nearby. The Belmont fire department soon had several hose in play, but the fire swept rapidly through the big plant and within thirty minutes of the time it was discovered the long L-shaped machine shop was wrapped in flames, and the heat was so intense it was impossible to get within thirty feet of the building.

The flames shooting high lighted up the entire valley and many people were roused by the bright light. Nearby telephone lines were burned and a wagon shop across Greenwich Street, owned and operated by Clark Haynes, was entirely consumed. Houses nearby several times caught fire and only by the most strenuous work did the firemen keep the flames from wiping out a whole section of the town.

The pressure on the village gravity water line lessened after the first half hours fighting but about 6 a.m. a special train on the Erie railroad brought the Genesee Steamer Co. with their steamer from Wellsville. The steamer pumped two streams from the river and obviated all danger of further spread of the fire.

The most plausible theory of the origin of the fire is spontaneous combustion from coal dust.

The loss is largely covered by insurance. The officers of the company decline to make an estimate as yet of the total loss. President William P. Clark, of the company is in New York City. Vice-President, Charles E. Clark, of Wellsville, issued the following statement:

The business of Clark Bros. Co., will be continued. The repair orders and rush orders for immediate delivery will be promptly executed by the Clark & Norton branch shops at Wellsville. The patterns, pattern house, ware houses, containing finished machinery and part, also large stock of castings are all saved. Plans for immediate rebuilding under consideration
(Signed) CLARK BROS. CO.

Quarters for office work are being fitted out in one of the warehouses.

Clark Bros. Co. are one of the largest manufacturers of saw mill machinery and automatic and Corliss steam engines in the United States.

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