I worked as a draftsmen in Old Town at Trippensee Corp. on Cass Street behind the Stable. From my 3rd story window I could see the back of the Fordney Hotel and watching the hotel burn down I remember the day like it just happened. It was a hot day in June of 1991, and I mean hot. Like melt your face of hot, like the dude in Indiana Jones hot. I remember hearing a fire truck coming down Hamilton in the late morning, and I looked out the window to see it stop near the Fordney Hotel. A couple of firefighters got out and went inside the building, then one came out running back to the truck, and I mean RUNNING. I have never seen a firefighter run like that in full gear with a coat, boots, pants and air tank. He looked like Usain Bolt going for an Olympic medal. I knew something serious was happening for him or her to be running like that.
Shortly after I saw some smoke starting to wisp out of the windows and it was a few minutes later there was a lot of smoke. More fire trucks showed up, and by then, the fire was raging pretty good. 12 noon had come and it was time for lunch so I went downstairs to eat lunch with some of the guys from the shop like I always did and when I got to the first floor of the front office there was a group of employees watching the fire from the window. As I turned and looked out the window I saw the back wall of the Fordney collapse and it was 3 stories of flames, a site that I have burned into my memory like other disasters such as the Challenger Shuttle Explosion or the 9-11 attacks on the Twin Towers.
Within a couple of hours the Fordney was a pile of rubble as the fire fighters worked on extinguishing the fires that raged thru the buildings next to where the Fordney had once stood. My dad was a fireman in Carrollton, and by then I think most of the surrounding townships were called in to help the city. Not because of the need for equipment, but because it was so hot that day the firefighters were working in shifts to get a break from the heat. The fire was finally extinguished that evening, and the heart of Old Town was in ruin. The Ippel Building managed to survive that day only to be lost a few years later to another devastating fire.
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