Photos of Hampton's Great Fires

History of the Hampton Fire Department

A tradition of service, courage and pride

Courtesy of Atlantic News & Advertiser

January 10, 1984

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- SECTION 15 -

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  • A fire completely destroyed the Foleys Restaurant February 15, 1943 at 10:14 a.m. on one of the coldest days recorded with the thermometers reading at 20 degrees below zero and in addition a fierce wind blowing. The flames fairly leaped across the street almost seeming to envelope the building on the opposite side. The fire department very soon after cut down the flames and held the fire within the restaurant walls. The adjoining Miller Stove Store and Fearer's Shoe Store were damaged. It almost seemed to be a hopeless task for saving an entire block of stores, but the rush of fire was held, and the greater part of the structure was saved. The extreme cold hampered the firemen as everything froze as the water touched the surface of an object. Firemen and Coast Guardsmen who came to help the fire department were badly frost bitten. With the block of stores burned in the center of town and war conditions, it was impossible to rebuild. This appearance blackened the center of Hampton for a long time to come.
  • TOWN HALL FIRE -- The 153-year old Hampton town hall was destroyed by fire Saturday, March 19, 1949. Only fire blackened outer walls and bell tower were left standing after flames ruined the interior of the structure. The building was entirely ablaze when firemen arrived on the scene at 5:30 a.m. The fire apparently started from an explosion near the wood burning hot air furnace on the ground floor. Thousands of gallons of water were poured on the belfry tower of the building to save the 200-year old bell and prevented the tower from crashing to the street. Hampered by the biting cold, the firemen fought the flames from spreading to the nearby buildings, including the up-town fire station itself. The big dawn blaze was estimated to cause $75,000 damage.
  • DRAKESIDE INFERNO -- Firefighters from four communities battled a spectacular fire of suspicious origin, that completely destroyed one of Hampton's older farm houses on April 28, 1964. Upon arrival of the fire department, the structure was completely engulfed in flames. The site of the fire on Drakeside Road was also the location of a fire in February of the same year, which leveled the barn.
  • THE GREAT BOAR'S HEAD BLAZE -- On a cold evening at 9:59 p.m., Hampton firefighters along with North Hampton, Seabrook, Exeter, Hampton Falls and Portsmouth Fire Departments battled a raging fire on Great Boar's Head. The fire was the first major fire in 1964 which gutted the three story apartment structure. High winds contributed to the rapid spread of the fire, and water quickly turned into ice as it hit the ground and surrounding houses. The building was a total loss.
  • HAMPTON BLOCK FIRE -- A hot smoke-filled fire badly damaged the law offices of Sanders and McDermott, along with two other professional offices in October 1970. The building located at 408 Lafayette Road, was one of the town's older Victorian homes, and was completely renovated and converted to offices a few years earlier. The blaze was reported at 8:25 p.m. followed by a call from a passerby. The fire apparently started in the rear portion of the three story building, and spread upward through the partitions. The last piece of fire apparatus returned about 12:30 a.m. Three firefighters were injured battling this blaze.
  • TIDES HOTEL -- A midafternoon fire at the Tides Hotel 123 Ocean Blvd. caused heavy damage to the structure on October 6, 1974. The three alarm blaze which was first reported at 3:02 p.m. quickly accelerated pouring heavy black smoke into the beach sky. At the time the blaze broke out, firefighters were busy with an apparatus demonstration at the up-town fire station on Winncunnet Road. They quickly reassembled and responded. Standing along the boulevard, many spectators viewed the blaze of this 4 story wood frame hotel. Two firefighters were injured while battling the fire.
  • OLD ENGLISH APARTMENTS -- A fireball of flames combined with a thick black smoke blossomed into the evening sky Saturday July 5, 1975 as a three alarm fire roared through the attic portion of Old English Apartments on Winnacunnet Road. The blaze left 29 families homeless and one firefighter hospitalized. Firefighters from Hampton Falls, North Hampton, Seabrook, Exeter and Newburyport were called in to help battle the blaze.
  • GIOVANNI'S FIRE -- An early morning inferno ripped through the Ocean Squire Motor Inn and Giovanni's Restaurant on Labor Day September 1, 1975. The four alarm fire completely destroyed the building. Upon arrival, firefighters were tasked with immediate rescue work, which resulted in no one being injured. Fire fighters also worked feverishly to find a family who was not accounted for. It was found that this family escaped safely and were on their way back to Canada. After the fire broke out, they left without advising officials. Nearby structures also received damage as did many vehicles parked on the street when a wall collapsed. The cause of this destructive blaze has never been determined. A new Giovanni's was built and is still in operation today, 1983.
  • CAPTAIN D'S OYSTER HOUSE -- A spectacular three alarm fire December 12, 1978 completely destroyed the Captain D's Oyster House at 939 Ocean Boulevard. Smoke poured out of the entrance to the restaurant as firemen prepared to enter the building that Wednesday night. The blaze was reported at 5:15 p.m. As firemen worked inside the building, it exploded into flames, blowing two firemen out of it. High winds contributed to the inferno, blowing flames and cinders across Ocean Boulevard. The fire was fought for four hours, and the building was a complete loss.
  • SPINDRIFT MOTEL -- Over 100 tourists escaped injuries when forced to evacuate a four alarm fire which struck the Spindrift Motel at 190 Kings Highway in the early morning of August 8, 1981. The four story wood frame building was heavily damaged. Firefighters from many seacoast communities fought the blaze of the seasonal resort motel for over 2 hours before bringing it under control. Three firefighters were injured during the blaze.
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