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Blaze will go down in city’s history books

City in flames: Front Street fire (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

The fire that ravaged Front Street will go into Hamilton’s history books, joining other landmark blazes that inflicted heavy damage but could have been worse.

Bermuda’s last major fire was the inferno of August 8, 2011 that engulfed the HWP’s body and paint centre, on St John’s Road, Pembroke.

Yesterday’s tragedy was arguably the island’s most serious fire since the Chesley White department store was burnt to the ground on October 8, 1970.

That business, which stood where Washington Mall runs today, threatened to take out a block of Reid Street before being contained. A keenly felt loss for Hamilton came on December 23, 1955 when the Hamilton Hotel was razed by fire.

The site is home today to the City Hall car park.

The infamous Bermudiana Hotel fire followed on September 4, 1958, destroying another classic hotel on Bermudiana Road, later home to XL Insurance. In October 1982, the Butterfield & Co warehouse on East Broadway went up in flames: that location is today occupied by the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute.

Other notable fires for the city include a blaze at the old Horse and Buggy pub on Queen Street.