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Southbridge, Massachusetts


Postcard submitted by Jim Phillips

Aftermath of the Maci Building Fire - 1971
Photos by Don and Dick Whitney
 

A look back: the demolition of the Maci building, following the fire which destroyed it, in 1971.
This building was on the corner of Main and Central St. and it is now the parking lot. Mario's Restaurant was located in the adjacent building.


Looking down Elm Street to Main Street, the remnants of the Maci Building


 

Onlookers standing in front of the old YMCA building. The reflection of the demolition can be seen in the window.
That's me (Dick Whitney) and my mother, Jan in the center of the photo. I was having a bad hair and sideburn day!
 


MACI BLAZE WASN’T THE FIRST FIRE THERE

Taken from The Southbridge News dated September 17, 1971 by Evening News Staff:
 

Southbridge – One man died and 11 others were injured in the fire that completely gutted the Maci building on the corner of Main and Central Streets early this morning.

Thomas Pappas, whose Greek name was Kyriakos Pappadopoulas, plummeted out of a third story window on the Central Street side of the building about 4 a.m.  Almost immediately afterwards, Jim Karafereas, appeared at the same window standing up on the window sill.  Firemen rushed a ladder to him, swinging the ladder past him.  When it came to rest against the side of the building he grabbed it and made his descent.  Pappadopoulas was dead-on-arrival at the hospital and Karafereas treated for superficial first degree burns to the fingers, thighs and toes.

Mrs. Grace Demirjian, 56, also a tenant in the building, was rescued next from the building being taken down a ladder at the Main Street side.  She was treated at Harrington Memorial Hospital for mild anxiety reaction.

Others suffering injuries were Lt. James Brackett, 40, of the Southbridge Fire Department, who was treated and released for mild smoke inhalation; Kenneth Madore, 17, treated for a lacerated arm; Paul Benoit, 31, of 36 Armory Ave., a fireman, treated for lacerations of the left hand; Helen Fitzgerald, 75, a resident of the Maci building at 284 Main St., treated for shock; Eva Leduc, 85, 284 Main Street, treated for lacerations of the scalp; Judith Olin, 26, 284 Main St., treated for smoke inhalation, lacerations of the fingers and left wrist; Ronald Lemire, 24, a fireman of 57 Highland St., treated for smoke inhalation.  Raymond Madore, 34, 221 High St., a fireman, treated for smoke inhalation, and Gerard Olin, 38, of 284 Main St., treated for smoke inhalation.

At 10:30 a.m. Louis J. Ciprari of 44 Highland St., one of the owners of the building was wheeled into the hospital, apparently suffering from exhaustion.

Crowds of people streamed into the area and lined the streets after the siren had stopped ringing No. 34.  The alarm rang at 3:35 a.m.  Until 4:30 or 5 a.m. cars could still approach as near as the Central Street parking lot and down Elm Street and from both sides of Main Street to within a block.

Shortly after 4, fire started coming out of the lower floor windows of the four-story building as tenants were evacuated from upper story windows. Ciprari entered the recently renovated brick building twice, the second entrance from a ladder at the second story level.  He was carrying an air tank on his back and a flashlight.  He returned shortly afterwards, shaking his head, a grim expression on his face.

Fire Captain William Berry was shouting directions to firemen hesitantly going up the back of the building. At the same time, two firemen, both retching from smoke inhalation, were taken to the hospital.
Victor Peloquin, who has an insurance office on the ground floor and is the insurer of the building, was pulling files from the office, and firemen were helping to carry television sets from the Cable Television Company in the office next to Peloquin’s.

At 5:25, flames suddenly began shooting out of the roof of the building.  “Everybody out!” shouted Deputy Fire Chief Armand Dumas over a bullhorn.  A hose was attached to a ladder reaching up from the Big Bertha on Main Street and shot water on the roof.  Later, several firemen climbed the ladder, which was nearly perpendicular and not resting on the building, and held the hose directing it on the roof.  The firefighter at the top of the ladder was lost to sight through the billowing smoke.  The flames reached 50 or 60 feet into the electric blue sky.

Henry Madore, co-owner of the building with Ciprari, whose sons were injured in the blaze, asked that neighboring fire departments be called in. Police Chief Ovide Desrosiers arrived on the scene asking what traffic control measures had been taken.  “Anybody up the Globe?  How about Goddard Street?  How about Hook?”

Flames began shooting across Central Street to the Hartwell Building.  Linda Carragher, News Society reporter was forced to evacuate her third story apartment.

Three streams of water were directed on the building from the Central Street side.  “The windows are a little hard to break,” Madore commented.  They’re all double-thick Thermopane.”  Firemen began throwing bricks and stones to break the windows. An orange glow could be seen from the windows of all four stories of the building at about 6 a.m., as ceilings collapsed.The stench from the gutted building filled the area as the flames died down about 6:30.




Other Fires of Southbridge

Other Southbridge Landmark Demolition Pages on this site:

AO Main Plant for DOD Project - 2000

YMCA -1975

Southbridge History Page

Whitney Home Page