Below is from an 1898 newspaper clipping regarding a fire at the Hotel Chester. Today, this location is Salon 2000.
“The fire of last week Saturday night at the depot village which resulted in the destruction of the Chester Hotel was a bad one, making a great loss to that locality also to the town itself. Owing to the condition of water supply it was impossible to save any part of the hotel or livery stable.
“The streams worked well for a few moments but as soon as sand was drawn into the valves the pumps failed to work and although there was 180 pounds of steam on at the time which was enough to throw three good streams, it was impossible to use it to any good result.
“The criticisms heard on that evening by some of our people were rather aggravating to those who were trying their best to make the machine do good work. The firemen should be encouraged instead of being kicked on such occasions. It is all very well for fault finders to do this in their own opinion but to the general public it is a boiled down and concentrated meanness.
“The loss incurred by the fire amounted to from $5000 to $8000. Mr. Hamilton saved a good part of the furniture in the hotel but numerous small valuables were destroyed. Mr. Adams who did business in the livery stable was fortunate in saving most of his stable property.
“The coolest headed act during the fire was when Ed Holt and Augustus Archer saved Mr. Charles Burrell from being roasted alive inside the building. Mr. Holt entered a window in the third story by means of a ladder, and while in the room on his hands and knees and unable to see on account of the dense smoke, he found Mr. Burrell in one corner of the room lying on his face unconscious.
“Mr. Holt secured a rope around Mr. Burrell’s body and lifted him outside the window and with the aid of Augustus Archer, lowered Mr. Burrell to the piazza roof and then to the ground.
“He was taken to the depot and assistance summoned. Drs. Ray and Havens after quick work with restoratives brought the unfortunate to and he was taken to Hotel Fullerton and made as comfortable as possible. His face and hands were badly burned otherwise he will come out all right.
“Recent Fires in Chester
“The following conclusions been reached by the writer concerning the recent fires in Chester.
“That, the steam whistle alarm signals are not as well understood as they should be, even by the firemen. They are the No. Street one short and one long; for Depot Street two short and one long; for South Street three short and one long; and for Factoryville four short and a long; very easily remembered.
“That upon the sounding of an alarm, firemen should at once repair to their engine houses, unless they know their engine is already on the way to the place of action.
“That the score or more of fire extinguishers located in the several villages should be called into instant requisition, their value and efficiency depending almost wholly upon their prompt application, at the earliest possible moment. The Carlisle barn in which hay was discovered burning fiercely, was doubtless saved by the timely use of one of these hand extinguishers, the fire being promptly smothered and kept within control until a hose from ‘Yosemite’ was brought to bear upon it; even then it was with difficulty wholly subdued.
“That too much care cannot be exercised in the condition in which the fire engines, on which so much of our safety depends, are kept. So small a thing as the mislaying of a hose reducer, caused the loss of many valuable minutes, before ‘Yosemite’ was brought into action, while a little disorder with the ‘Steamer’s’ valves robbed it of its usefulness; not that the final result would have been changed, or even modified, had both machines been in the pinkest of order.
“The Hotel was bound to go long before an engine was on the ground, but had the wind been fierce it would have been extremely difficult to have saved the buildings that lay in line with the flying cinders, several of which did become ignited, and were saved by hard work.
“That property is too often ‘saved from fire’ but lost to any earthly use, by the work of some more willing than wise, who do not realize that it is better for the owner that his furniture be burned than that it be irreparably ‘smashed’ even though it be not insured.”
The photo with this article is one of many in our new book, “Pictorial History of Chester, Andover, Londonderry and Weston.” They are for sale at select stores in Bellows Falls, Chester, Londonderry, and Weston.
The next meeting of the Chester Historical Society will be Wednesday, July 24 at 7 p.m. at the Academy Building. Note the date change. See you there.