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On Saturday morning, November 6, 1915, fire destroyed five buildings and damaged others in the 100 block of West Martin Street. The 6:05 a.m. blaze started on the third-floor of a four-story printing company, and soon spread to the buildings next door, including the two-story News & Observer building.
Four firemen were injured, including two who fell through the Crystal Theatre, when a wall collapsed on their roof position. Over $300,000 of property were destroyed.
The intense blaze produced embers that started ten other fires in the vicinity, and charred paper was reportedly picked up as far as Apex, sixteen miles away. The crowd of spectators that gathered was compared to that of the State Fair.
Hundreds send their condolences to the displaced newspaper, which had lost a previous building just three years earlier. Even President Woodrow Wilson wired a special message to publisher Josephus Daniels, then Secretary of the Navy. Thousands more visited the scene the day after, as firefighters continued spraying a steady stream of water on the smoldering ruins.
This page last updated March 26, 2018
Copyright 2023 by Michael J. Legeros