of us remember the day of the Hoffman fire, it was a devastating
fire that threatened many other stores in the area and for a while
it looked like the whole town would burn down.
Many of the stores were built of wood
frame and were very old, some dating back to the 1800’s. It
took all of Niles firefighters and several other departments to
knock the blaze out.
There were several people in the Hoffman
Store when it started and everyone got out except a 67 year old
lady on the second floor who was over come with smoke and died there.
Shown here is the Nick Ragazzo Shop,
which was so badly damaged it had to be torn down. SO3.56
The fire was a real tragedy, not only because
of the loss of life, but also it marked the beginning decline
of the downtown area. Because of the fire the adjacent buildings,
Ragazzo's (the old Wagstaff-Jenkins drug store in the 1890's)
and Pritchards had to be torn down due to the heat and smoke damage.
The fire started about 3:00 PM. Our local Red
Cross Chapter immediately set up a refreshment stand and stood
by until the last fireman left the scene.