Eighty-five years ago, the city of Ellsworth, Maine was almost completely destroyed by fire on May 7, 1933. Combustible wood frame construction, wooden shingle roofs, limited water supplies, and high winds were responsible for the speed and destruction of this conflagration.
An overview of the devastation after the fire in Ellsworth, Maine on May 7, 1933.
From NFPA’s Volunteer Firemen v.1, no.1, 1933:
“The fire started in an old two-story frame building which was used for storage of old lumber…The fire was discovered about ten o’clock in the evening by two boys, who telephoned an alarm to the fire department. The two pumpers in town responded promptly, each with a driver. The volunteers, most of whom lived near by, were at the scene of the fire within a few minutes. The volunteer department from Ellsworth Falls, two and one-half miles away, responded promptly and within a short time four hose lines were directed on the burning building. The combustibility of the building made the spread of the fire very rapid and the hose streams had little effect. The burning brands from the wooden shingle roofs soon ignited the roofs of other buildings and the fire spread rapidly through the congested district of the city. The intense heat and flames forced the fire department to abandon some hydrants and leave the hose lines with water still running. This resulted in considerable loss of water and pressure and handicapped fire department operations at other points.”
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