Downtown Fire 1945

Fire in Downtown Colon

Colon Express, January 11, 1945: “Colon experienced its first bad fire scare in the business district in over forty years. The Adams store building and contents were badly damaged and it was only due to the quick and efficient work of the fire department that the building was saved, and probably prevented the entire block of buildings being wiped out. The fire started just before noon and developed so quickly that occupants and patrons of the store had no opportunity to do a thing other than get outside ahead of the dense smoke, which quickly filled the entire building. It is not known what definitely caused the sudden outburst but it is possible the heating plant burst out from an accumulation of gas and the fire quickly spread through the basement. Firemen made numerous attempts to get to the fire with chemicals but the smoke was so dense that it was impossible and two lines of hose were laid, one throwing water into the basement from the rear and the other working at the front of the building. The firemen worked in relays with the hose, a couple of them going in to handle the hose as long as they could stand the smoke, and others going in to take over. It was a real job of fire fighting they did, and with success, as it was under control in a half hour. That was also a strenuous half hour for everyone in that block. An inspection of the basement of the building after the smoke had cleared away showed that the sub floor above had all been on fire all through the building, rafters were badly burned, some nearly to the breaking point, and the blaze had followed the route to all the registers and in several places had gained a slight start in the upper floor. The building is owned by Jesse Adams and his loss is estimated at between $2,000 and $3,000. Robert Adams, who a short time ago purchased the grocery business from Adams Brothers, has not had time to inventory the stock to know just what can be salvaged, as it was all badly damaged by water and smoke. His loss is roughly estimated at $2,500 to $3,000. The store had recently been redecorated and “Bob” had been working overtime-refinishing counters and shelving, just completing the work the first of the week. The Freeland barber and beauty shop was badly damaged by smoke and water and Jack says the room filled with smoke so quickly that he did not have time to carry out his tools. Mr. Freeland has accepted Mrs. Letah Farrand’s hospitality to move the beauty parlor equipment to her home and Mrs. Wildred Bauman, the operator, will open shop in the Farrand home temporarily, the first house south of the library on Main Street and the telephone number is 2451. Mr. Freeland also accepted Goodell & King’s invitation to move in across the street with them and that is where he is doing business. Mr. Adams has a more serious problem and cannot definitely announce just what he will do, however, they are taking inventory and plan to have a special sale of all salvaged goods, such as canned goods and such other items as can be used. After clearing out the stock it will be necessary to close the store until repairs to the building are made. Bob says they will be open for business with a complete new stock just as soon as possible. All parties interested carried insurance to cover the direct loss, but being put out of business for several weeks cannot be covered. Old-timers do not exactly agree when Colon business district had its last bad fire. Some say it was 41 years ago when the wooden buildings where Brast’s store and Gamble Drug Store are now located, and others are of the opinion it was the wooden structure where the printing office and post office building now stands.”