READY TO ROLL

READY TO ROLL

Monday, August 25, 2008

ZIMMERMAN FIRE - 1953




On March 10, 1953, a general alarm fire gutted the five-story Zimmerman Building at Limestone and Main streets in downtown Springfield - but a lone lightbulb inside the structure refused to go out.

The blaze burned for more than five hours. It started in the basement and traveled up a dumb waiter shaft to the top floor.

``Although the Ohio Edison Company cut all electric service to the building one light bulb continued to remain lit all through the fire and stayed lit until the upper three stories were removed,'' Fire Captain Calvin Roberds wrote in his 1978 history book From Buckets to Diesels. ``The source of the power was never found.''

Rex Miller, who worked at Pat Finnigan's tavern, pulled the alarm box at the interestion at 2:52 a.m., The Springfield Daily News reported. The second alarm followed at 2:58 a.m. and the general alarm at 3:17 a.m.

``I heard something like a shot being fired or an explosion in the basement,'' Miller told the newspaper. ``The next thing I knew was flames flaring from the basement.''

Hazel Patton, the lone occupant of the office building, fled on a fire escape. Springfield Fire Chief Willard Compton directed the fire fighting and ``practically all men and apparatus from the city department were pressed into service,'' the Daily News said.