On Saturday morning, November 6, 1915, fire destroyed five buildings and
damaged others in the 100 block of West Martin Street. The 6:05 a.m. blaze started on the third-floor of
a four-story printing company, and soon spread to the buildings next door,
including the two-story News & Observer building.
Four firemen were injured,
including two who fell through the Crystal Theatre, when a wall collapsed on their
roof position. Over $300,000 of property were destroyed.
The intense blaze produced embers that started ten other fires in the
vicinity, and charred paper was reportedly picked up as far as Apex, sixteen
miles away. The crowd of spectators that gathered was compared to that of
the State Fair.
Hundreds send their condolences to the displaced newspaper,
which had lost a previous building just three years earlier. Even
President Woodrow Wilson wired a special message to publisher Josephus Daniels, then Secretary of the Navy. Thousands more
visited the scene the day after, as firefighters continued spraying a steady
stream of water on the smoldering ruins.