Sussex Downtown 1966 "Urban Renewal" Fire
Transcribed and Edited by Michael R. Reilly
Last Revised 05/03/2009
April 26, 1966 - Hundreds of spectators watch as the heart of the old Sussex business district went up in a holocaust. Among the spectators was the entire school population from Sussex Main Street School, who were let out of class because of the conflagration. Source: Yesteryear in Sussex by Fred H. Keller, page 63; originally printed Sussex Sun, Tues., Apr. 17, 1976
1966 Sussex Fire Causes $60,000 in Destruction
by Fred H. Keller, April 27, 1976
Exactly 10 years ago Monday, Sussex experienced one of its biggest fires in history. A 60-year-old 2 story frame building, which formerly had been the village general store, was totally destroyed. Units from 6 different fire departments fought the blaze, with the main concentration being directed toward saving adjacent buildings.
The efforts of the firemen were successful in stopping the spread of the fire to a wooden 2 story apartment just 12 feet away. The strong prevailing wind was blowing directly towards the apartment. If the apartment building caught fire it undoubtedly would have spread to the Podolske Hardware Store and dwelling, too, which was tight up against the apartment building.
Lost in the estimated $60,000 fire were 2 apartments, a coin operated laundromat, a tinsmith business and a vacated store area. Anthony Schumann was the owner and a former proprietor of the general store that the building housed. For many years the Sussex Post Office had used a section of the frame structure before it moved to the present quarters.
The heat of the fire was so intense at times that firemen had to spray water on their trucks to stop paint from blistering.
The destroyed building stood where the present parking lot for Sussex Sentry Store is.