Monday was a very important day in Lewis County history. The Village of Croghan commemorating the 100 year anniversary of a fire that wiped out its downtown area, killing two young children. Our Brian Dwyer has the story of that day and the village looking back.
CROGHAN, N.Y. -- 2:30 Monday afternoon.
The Village of Croghan ringing the bells of the St. Stephen's Church to commemorate this day 100 years ago. 2:30 that afternoon in 1912, the bells rang sending out the alert that there was a fire. A tragedy that would see Croghan never be the same again.
Croghan Historical Advisor Ken Proulx tells the story:
"People were going about their everyday duties not realizing what was about to happen. Mrs. Grunert, who was in charge of her cafe in the afternoon, had two children napping upstairs. She ascended the stairs to check on her children and was confronted with smoke and flames."
"There was this young man named Frank Lyndacker in the village that day who heard her. He went up into the room and found the two children," Proulx said. "He took each one, one at a time over to the window and dropped them down to men underneath but they were overcome by smoke and they died of asphyxiation."
"So as they saw this fire building, they sent a man by horseback out to the valve," Proulx says of the fire fighting efforts. "When he got out there he turned the valve in the wrong direction and turned the water off. By 4:30 p.m. the entire business district was a heap of ashes. Forty buildings destroyed. Twenty-three families, 200 people homeless and the two children."
Now the village says it's important to commemorate this event to not only keep this story alive, but also that sense of community and the important role the fire department plays today.
"This isn't about the historic work of the firefighters as far as I'm concerned. This is about a community pulling together and living on," Croghan Fire Department Member Steve Monnat said. "Croghan has always been a unique place. I think it's important to commemorate such a tragic event."
It was later determined the fire started after a bon fire in the backyard of the cafe made its way into the building.
You can check out the "Your Hometown" done on Croghan or by checking out YNN's Video on Demand channel 1010.