December 17, 1963- Major Fire on N. Market Destroys Many Businesses

Fire early today in downtown Marion destroyed two buildings including three businesses and heavily damaged the roof of a fourth business with a total estimated damage of $453,000. Firemen from more than half-a-dozen towns brought the blaze under control within about three hours. It was the second fire in Marion’s business district within less than eight months.

Damage in a May 6 fire was estimated from $1.25 million and $1.5 million. Fire which started about 5:50 am in the southeast corner area of the basement furnace room of Kimmel Auto Supply knocked out almost a half-a-block of the north Market Street within an hour after firemen answered the initial call.

In addition to Kimmel’s store, the division office of General Telephone Co. upstairs above Kimmel’s and Crouse Jewelers were destroyed and the roof of Sorgen Studio & Camera Shop building was heavily damaged. Damage from water and smoke resulted in other businesses north of Sorgen’s including ABC Liquor Store, Spires Shop women’s apparel and Montgomery Ward & Co. catalogue store. Four apartments were above the businesses. Two apartments were above Sorgen’s and at least two others were damaged by the fire or water and smoke. No records were removed from Kimmel’s, Crouse’s or from General Telephone.

Division Manager Robert Reel and Division Commercial Manager Loren Carter went to the office just after the fire started. Reel called Gene Kimmel to notify him of the fire but neither of them could get into the building to recover records. A Mt. Vernon snorkel truck which was used for the first time in fighting the May 6 downtown fire was standing by in the rear of the burned buildings but could not be used because of inadequate water supply, firemen said. “Water and manpower is my problem. If I’d had enough water, we would have been able to contain the fire to the Kimmel building,” said Marion Fire Chief James Dungey.

General Telephone employs some 65 persons in the division office. Division Commercial Manager J.W. Travelstead said earlier today that the company was negotiating for temporary facilities. A new office building under construction in southeast Marion is scheduled for completion June 1. No injuries were reported. Additional damage to the other businesses in the vicinity was estimated at some $50,000.

Insurance adjusters made these estimates at an early stage so estimates are likely to go higher when the results are in. General Telephone Co. after noon today was negotiating for quarters in the Ordill area, an official said. Leroy Almaroad, 22 and his wife and infant child were tenants in an apartment above the Sorgen store.

Mrs. Almaroad’s mother, Mrs. Christine Mathis lived in an apartment above the ABC Liquor Store which is the next store to Sorgen’s.

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(Photos by A.C. Storme (Donated to WCHS), data extracted from local newspapers and compiled by Harry Boyd, posted at )


December 17, 1963- Major Fire on N. Market Destroys Many Businesses — 2 Comments

    • I am not sure as to the number, but I do have fire reports up to about the late 1970’s under the index tab /government/fire reports.

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