Ocean City, NJ Eight Blocks Burn, Oct 1927
OCEAN CITY TRADE AREA IS SWEPT BY $4,000,000 FIRE.
THIRTY BUILDINGS FALL PREY TO FLAMES IN EIGHT BLOCKS AT NEW JERSEY RESORT, INVOLVING HOTELS, THEATRES, SHOPS AND GARAGES -- ONE MAN KILLED -- FIREMAN IS INJURED -- NORMANDIE HOTEL AND HIPPODROME PIER GONE.
Ocean City, N. J., Oct. 12. -- (U.P.) -- An area eight blocks square was a smoldering mass of debris today after one of the most disastrous fires in local history.
Thirty buildings were razed, causing a loss of approximately $4,000,000. Among them were three big frame hotels, shops, business houses, a garage, two motion picture theatres, many boardwalk concessionaires and the Hippodrome Pier.
Three firemen were injured severely by glass and flame, one of them perhaps fatally. EMIL LANDBACH, of Ocean City, was killed near Mays Landing, N. J., when his automobile skidded and overturned while he was on his way to the fire. He had heard that his home was in danger.
The fire started at 7 p.m. and within a few hours several frame buildings were ablaze. A shift in the wind at 11 p.m. helped check the blaze. Fireproof buildings along Asbury avenue, the main business section, also aided in checking the flames.
At midnight fire fighters from a dozen cities who answered the call for help had the flames under control.
Relief measures for the scores dispossessed were under way today. The fact that many lives had not been lost in the fire is attributed to the fact most of the cottages, boarding houses and hotels in the path of the flames were practically deserted for the winter. The population of Ocean City has shrunk from 100,000 to but little more than its winter time 8,000.
For a time it appeared as though the entire resort would be destroyed. Mayor JOSEPH G. CHAMPION, at one stage of the fire, stated that dynamite was the only hope of saving the city.
Two of the largest hotels in the city, the Normandie by the Sea and the Lincoln, were among the buildings destroyed. The Normandie contained 1000 rooms and the Lincoln about 600.
The mayor stated that an explosion of gasoline in the Boardwalk Garage, when the flames consumed that structure, was responsible for the rapid spread of the fire.
School boys, organized into small bands, rescued several thousand dollars' worth of valuable merchandise from burning stores, piling the goods along the entire beach front. County detectives and state and city police were placed on guard over the goods.
The Grand Theatre, a large motion picture house, and several other buildings in the vicinity of Ninth street and the Boardwalk, were destroyed. Other hotels badly damaged included the Biscayne, Traymore, Mayberry, Swarthmore and Waverly.
The mayor's residence was also burned. Other buildings taken were the Seaside and Shelton baths, CROWE'S greenhouses and a score of shops along the Boardwalk.
The fire started, according to another story, in the Unger Arcade Building. The first fire company to arrive on the scene had no chance of conducting an investigation into the origin because the buildings on either side facing the ocean had taken fire and were rapidly spreading.
Fifteen minutes after the firemen began playing on the blazing structures on the 'walk' the flames had made their way down Ninth street and fired the Boardwalk Garage, adjoining the Arcade building on the Ninth street side.
With a roar that could be heard all over the resort, a huge gasoline tank exploded, sending the blazing fuel high into the air. The firemen ran for their lives, and as they did so three more tanks went up in rapid succession. The high-shooting flames and the burning embers carried to the air by the stiff breeze from the ocean landed on the tops of other buildings, and in a short time the entire Boardwalk section between Ninth and Tenth streets was a blazing mass.
The Normandie, a six-story frame structure, was doomed in a very few minutes. It appeared to catch in a dozen places at once and burned up like a matchbox.
The Hippodrome, the city's largest pier and amusement center, was one of the first buildings to fall before the flames. The Strand moving picture theatre, on the 'walk,' was destroyed soon after.
Chester Times Pennsylvania 1927-10-12