Film Fire at Maysville

Film Fire at Maysville

A destructive fire ensued at Maysville, Mo., when the operator on a motion picture machine dropped a piece of red-hot carbon on a pile of films in the Cundiff Opera House, which was destroyed with the stores under its roof and three of the town’s best stores. The opera house was the principal business structure in the town, and neither it nor the village itself possessed anything in the way of fire protective equipment, except an antiquated hand engine, with which, however, the townsmen were able to do good service and to save the village from being wiped out. The opera house building was three stories, and was constructed of concrete blocks. The fire started by Earl Cundiff, who was operating a moving picture machine on the third floor, who accidentally let fall into a box lying alongside a piece of lighted carbon which he was trying to replace in the lamp. An instantaneous blaze resulted, and Cundiff was driven from the wooden booth enclosing the machine. There were 60 persons in the theater, all of whom got out safely and without panic. The old hand engine was brought out and connected with a well in the public square, but it was 40 minutes before a stream could be thrown. The city water tank was empty, because the well that formerly supplied it had gone dry. A new well near the court house was not yet finished. All available buckets were brought out and every available well was laid under contribution. The villagers helped to carry the goods out of the stores, and men climbed to the roofs of adjacient buildings and beat out the sparks that lit on them. Between the burning opera house and the Maysville Bank was a fire wall, and here the stand was made by the fire-fighters. The hose was dragged up a stairway to the roof of the bank building, and one man stuck steadily to his post for five hours throwing a stream on the flames. Fortunately the wind was light and blew favorably away from the other buildings, though many roofs caught fire, while the houses and barns were saved. There were several explosions of oil and gasoline in a hardware store in the opera house building, and the owner of the store himself carried out 25 pounds of dynamite. It was midnight before the blaze was under control. The nearest town where there was any fire department was St. Joseph.

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