In partnership with the Maine Memory Network Maine Memory Network

Biddeford History & Heritage Project

Sharing the history of a proud city rising where the water falls

Cities of Smoke and Soot

Burning of the Hooper Street Tenements, Biddeford, 1963

Burning of the Hooper Street Tenements, Biddeford, 1963

Item 99399 info
McArthur Public Library

The Diamond National fire was one of the worst blazes in Biddeford's history. Fifteen homes were destroyed on Hooper Street, leaving 142 people homeless. A pair of two buildings were tenement housing that held five families each. Once the harsh winds brought the embers across to Hooper Street, the tenement buildings were completely reduced to ash within two hours.

An eye-witness reporter from the Portland Sunday Telegram commented that “an outside fuel-oil tank had just exploded in an upper tenement. The flying pieces of material could be seen as a fireman was sheltering his face. Driven by a fierce wind, the flames spread so fast that people did not have time to move their cars from side yards.” The total destruction of the blaze totaled over $15 million dollars by today's economy. In the attempt to ensure the fire did not reach Elm street it took the fire trucks of thirteen communities and the efforts of 300 individual firemen.

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