Remington's First Big Fire
April 9, 1886: A Midnight Blaze. Conneautville has a $10,0000 Fire. A fire which brokeout about one o'clock on Tuesday morning in the grocery store of Joseph N. Clark, on the south side of Center Street, between Water and Canal Streets, in this place, burned the large two story frame building of Wm. Breen adjoining it on the west, and the two story frame building of Tunis H. Greenfield, adjoining it on the east, and badly damaged a small two story frame building of Dr. O. Hough, adjoining the latter building. The burned buildings covered the ground on which the old "Three Big Doors" block was burned in the big fire of 1874. The origin of the fire is unkown. It was discovered by J. F. Wingate, whose family occupied rooms in the second storey of the Clark's building, and who was alone in the building, his wife and child being absent in Mercer County, visiting relatives. He was awakened by his little dog jumping on the bed. The fire in the room below had at that time gained such headway that he was only able to escape with his clothes. He gave the first cry of fire and about the same time the reflection of the flames awakened other persons. The family of Wm. Breen occupied rooms on the first floor in the rear portion of his building and Mr. Wingate ran to awaken them, the flames spreading so rapidly that Mr. and Mrs. Breen got out with only such clothing as they could catch up. Mrs. Breen is suffering from a very severe burn on one of her legs below the knee, received while escaping. Our citizens turned out with their usual promptness, but the rapid spread of the fire had left nothing for them to do in the way of saving contents of the buildings and it seemed a forgone conclusion that the wooden row must go. The roofs of the adjoining buildings were covered with snow and a pelting rain fell continuously. The Remington fire engine was soon got in position on Center Street, taking water from the old canal, and was run by hand until teams could be procured. Two lines of hose were laid and two effective streams were thrown for a time when a third was aded, two being kept on the south side to prevent the spread of fire to the large barn of J. A. Brown, only a few feet in the rear of Breen's building, with Mrs. Brown's ice house between them. Here the hardest work was required, as the wind was blowing strongly in that direction and the burning of the barn meant destruction of other barns adjoining and threatened the destruction of the Conneautville tannery, M. E. Churrch, Moultrop's foundry and machine shops and numnerous residences. On Center Street, one stream kept down the fire on Greenfield's bulding, which burned slowly and the fire was gotten under control with the burning off of one side and the rear end, allowing the roof to fall in. Between Greenfield's bulding and Dr. O. Hough's brick block was a narrow two story frame building owned by the latter. The rear end of this building was burned and the fire getting between the walls and under the tin roof gave considerable trouble and before being put out resulted in the building being left pretty badly demoralized by fire and water. It was a clean burn so far as the contents of the Clark and Breen's buildings were concerned, nothing being saved. J. N. Clark's loss on the building and stock is estimated at $5,000 with $2,450 insurance, $600 of which is in the Crawford Mutual, $500 in Litchfield's agency and the balance in the Hartford. Wm. Breen, who occupied one room in his store building as a grocery, loses one building, stock, and household goods, about $8,000 with an insurance of $1,000. John S. Eldridge occupied the other store in Breen's building as a billiard room, and losses about $500 with $300 insurance. T. H. Greenfield and his mother had occupied their building as a residence up to the day before the fire, and a portion of their household goods were in the building, some of which were saved. They lose about $800, with $500 insurance. J. F. Wingate loses on household goods about $600 with $200 insurance. Dr. Hough's loss on his building is about $200, fully insured. John A. Brown's ice house was not insured. Hough's and Greenfield's insurance is in the Crawford Mutual; and Breen's, Wingate's and Eldridge's in Harper's agency.......There has always been a rivalry as to who would get the first team to the engine in case of need. Mr. Dan Tarr, working for Powers Bros., carried off the broom, with Mr. Hugh McGuire a good second......A strong force pump and hose in Hough's building did good work, in which connection a good story is told. One of our citizens, who had never seen the new fire engine work, saw the stream being thrown from the force pump and supposing it came from the engine, expressed his opinion that if that was the best the engine could do, it must have been over-rated. He found out his mistake later...... This was the first pratical trial of the new Remington Horse Power Fire Engine here, and it fully sustained its reputation. It has worked steadily for over two hours, forcing through eight hundred feet of two and a half inch hose, laid in two lines, throwing three streams, the last being gained by attaching a "Y" and adding a section of two inch hose. Two teams, though tramping in mud knee deep, furnished the power while the fire was hottest, and afterwards one team did the work.