A devastating fire, fanned by strong winds, swept through Shamokin’s downtown business district on the night of Friday, Dec. 15, 1916.
Carried by United Press wire syndicate, the news report said firefighters from half a dozen nearby communities helped battle the blaze before it was brought under control early the next morning. Loss was estimated at more than $350,000.
“Until 2 a.m., it was feared the entire business section and at least part of the residential section of the town would be wiped out,” the wire story said. “The blaze started in the Williams building. In 15 minutes the entire structure was enveloped in flames that were blown directly across other buildings.
“With incredible swiftness, the fire swept down the block, leaped across a narrow street and continued on its path of destruction.”
According to the account, panic-stricken crowds swept past police lines and several persons were injured by the collapsing walls of the burning buildings. Fortunately, these injuries were not of a serious nature.
“Sixty families, some barefooted and in their night clothes, were driven to the ice-coated streets as the flames ate their way to a portion of the residential section.
“In many instances, the flames leaped down the street so rapidly that hose was burned before it could be removed from frozen plugs. Water was finally secured by thawing out plugs two blocks away.”
Firefighters remained on the scene the next day, monitoring to assure sparks from smoldering remains did not start a fresh fire.