East Liverpool Historical Society

From Chapter Ten, Great Fires, the unfinished manuscript of Gary Cornell, retired East Liverpool Fire Department firefighter and Fire Department historian. Used by permission.

This disastrous blaze occurred in the early morning hours of February 22nd, 1925. Spectators, (estimated to number in the thousands), watched the fiery scene throughout the long winter night.

Arriving on the scene was Asst. Chief Elmer McMillan and two other firefighters. They found the second floor of the Milligan Building engulfed in flames. The building was located at E. Fifth and Crook Alley. Chief Thomas Bryan and his son, Firefighter Charles Bryan, arrived about two minutes behind the first company. They quickly had five hose lines in operation, but were unable to contain the flames.

Picture from East Liverpool Fire Department Photo archives

The fire spread quickly throughout the Milligan building feeding on the large stock of paint, oil, ammunition, and other flammable material. Soon all eleven East Liverpool Firefighters were on the scene, but they were not enough to cope with this huge blaze. The Chester Volunteer Fire Department was called at about 2:20 A.M., and they responded with one truck and 12 men.

Picture from East Liverpool Fire Department Photo archives

As the fire raged on the entire six story Milligan Building became a mass of flames. The walls began to crack and Chief Bryan ordered all the men out of the alleys. Only minutes later the east wall broke and fell onto the Exchange Building across Crook Alley. Three lines of hose were severed when this happened. The Exchange Building then began to burn.

The intense heat broke all the windows in front of the Crook Furniture Co. across the street. The roof of the Crook Building also caught fire, as did others in the area, but they were extinguished without much trouble.

At about this time the top three stories of the Milligan building collapsed onto the three story Wazbutzsky Building next door. They smashed through the roof dooming it to total destruction.

The heavy brick firewall of the Thompson Building, to the west of the Wazbutzsky Building, kept the fire from spreading further. The section of the Exchange Building that housed McCrory's 5 & 10 was saved by a blind alley within the building. This enabled the firefighters to contain the fire to the west side of the building.

Picture from East Liverpool Fire Department Photo archives

Fire of February 22, 1925. This was the second largest fire in East Liverpool's history (up until this time). In the distance, half of the Exchange Building, occupied by Lewis Bros. To the right the Milligan Hardware and Wasbutsky Store and the former rooms of the Belmont Club.

The fire destroyed two buildings and part of another. Several other buildings were damaged. In all, seven businesses were burnt out. The dollar loss was estimated at $750,000. The insurance covered only $435,555 of the loss. . .

Cleaning debris from the Milligan Hardware Fire of February 22, 1925. Picture from Bob Lloyd


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