Power plant fire leaves small town in the dark

CHATHAM, NEW BRUNSWICK - The Chatham Electric Light Plant was practically totally destroyed by an early morning fire recently.

About 2:30 a.m. on May 23 smoke was seen issuing from under the turbine and the fire alarm was sounded.

The fire spread rapidly and in a few minutes the whole interior of the building was a mass of flames. The Fire Department responded promptly and soon had four streams playing on the building.

Aided by the heavy downpour of rain at the time, the firemen succeeded in confining the fire to the light station. Beyond the drawing of the furnace fires, in an effort to save the boilers, practically nothing could be done in the way of saving property, and when the fire was finally doused nothing remained but part of the brick walls and a lot of ruined machinery.

The loss is estimated at about $30,000.

Aside from the inconveniences incident to the lack of lighting facilities, the most serious phase of the situation is the suspension of operations at the shell factory, which depended on the Electric Light Plant for its motive power.

The only street lights were those of autos and delivery teams, augmented by the frequent glares of numerous flashlights - all sizes - in the hands of pedestrians who found themselves in an exceptionally dark corner, or caught in a crowd. The Palace Theatre, which always has a large audience on Saturday nights, was closed. Instead, most people were simply walking around the downtown.

All day long storekeepers and householders were kept busy trying to secure necessary facilities for dispelling the coming darkness, and some of our merchants did a rushing business disposing of their wares. The supply was not equal to the demand and rush orders were sent to the neighboring towns.

Attics and storerooms were ransacked and old lamps, long ago relegated to the junk pile, were brought forth, promptly polished and made fit for service once more.

The Light Department hopes to have both light and power service resumed by May 30. The three boilers at the station remain intact and a generator has been secured at Fredericton.


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