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Eight Houses Are Razed in Oramel Blaze - 1937

(Andover News, September 25, 1937)

Eight Houses Are Razed in Oramel Blaze

High Wind Hampers Bucket Brigade and 13 Volunteer Companies in Fight to Save Village

                Eight dwellings were burned to the ground and the Methodist Episcopal church badly damaged Sunday afternoon when flames, driven by a 40-mile-an-hour gale, swept the main street of the village of Oramel.

                The fire, which defied the efforts of 13 volunteer fire companies from neighboring towns, left 23 men, women and children homeless.

                Starting on the roof of the home by Miss Clara Fox and occupied by Mr. and Mrs. William Petty and Jack Francis, the wind-lashed blaze spread quickly to adjoining properties, despite a hastily-organized bucket brigade, which tried to stem the advance until fire apparatus came.

                Within 15 minutes of the time the fire was discovered by Grover Hall, who was working in the yard next door to the Petty residence, and Charles G. Wells, who was walking in the main street, fire apparatus began pouring in from Belfast, Caneadea, and Rushford.

                Late, companies from Fillmore, Wellsville, Scio, Cuba, Angelica, Belmont, and Houghton augmented the group of nearly 500 volunteers who were fighting the blaze.

                Lack of water hampered the firemen until three companies formed a line of hose a mile and a half in length and pumped water from the Genesee river.  Similar lengths of hose were run from a feeder of the old Olean Rochester canal a quarter of a mile from the fire.

                The erratic course of the flying sparks set fire to six homes on the north side of the street, one house on the south side and the Methodist Church 300 feet from the nearest burning dwelling.  The church, altho (SIC) suffering little from fire, sustained sever water damage.  Pews and much of the movable furniture were broken in the hasty efforts to get them out of harms way.

                Those rendered homeless by the fire are: Mr. and Mrs. Wallace Hall and two sons, Grover and Cole; Mr. and Mrs. Petty and Mr. Francis; Mr. and Mrs. William Herman and two daughters, Mary and Dorothy; Mr. and Mrs. Dial Fries and daughter, Dorothy; Mr. and Mrs. Henry Cassidy and children, Anne, Mildred and Lawrence ; the Misses Mary and Daisy Wilson and George Taft.

                Householders, with the exception of the Petty and Hall families, first hit by the blaze, were able to rescue most of their possessions.  Passing motorists aided in the evacuation.

                Mrs. Petty told reporters that she had to arouse Mr. Petty when the fire was discovered and the pair barely escaped the burning house before it collapsed.  All their personal effects, including furniture valued by Mrs. Petty at $600 were lost.

                Mrs. Hall, while she was able to leave the house before danger threatened, reported a similar loss of furniture and clothing.

                Mrs. Edward Young, whose husband owns one of the houses burned, was severely burned on the hands in an effort to save a trunk filled with World War relics, which her son had sent her from France just before he was killed in action there.

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