View of the Past

by Ron Leake, Ralls County Historical Society
1987 Center Fire. From Walter Roland Scrapbook. The fire station is at this location now 2015. 1987 Center Fire. From Walter Roland Scrapbook. The fire station is at this location now 2015.

This article is courtesy of Ron Leake, president of the Ralls County Historical Society.

This is the final part of a series of articles about the 90-year span of fires in Center.

Herald-Enterprise, Sept. 17, 1986, Pg. 1

Center Sundries destroyed by fire
A fire of still undetermined cause totally destroyed the Center Sundry store, owned and operated by Clyde Ardrey. Two adjacent vacant buildings sustained only minor damage.
The structure, built in 1895, [and] was one of the oldest in Center, was completely gutted by the blaze discovered at 11 p.m. on Sunday night.
A report of the blaze was given the Center fire department by a resident of the community who saw smoke coming from the building. Ardrey reported he had left the building about 10:30 and that everything was in good order.
Firemen from New London and Perry were called to assist in containing the blaze. The fire was brought under control about 2:30 a.m., but firemen remained on the scene throughout the night to extinguish flareups and prevent any spread of the fire.
Reports indicate the fire was believed to have started in the center of the building. The state fire marshall [sic] was summoned to investigate the cause of the blaze on Monday.
The general merchandise store was a gathering place for many residents, and the business will be a real loss to the community.

Herald-Enterprise, 1987

Center building destroyed by fire

By Marge Standefer
A fire of unknown origin completely destroyed a two story building in Center late Wednesday night, causing injury to five.
The building, owned by Gary and Jane Gage, housed the Center Post Office, a laundromat, and a Northeast Community Action Corporation (N.E.C.A.C.) Office on the ground level and five apartments on the second floor. Three of the apartments were occupied, one was vacant and the other was not in use.
The alarm was sounded to the Center Fire Department at approximately 10:45, according to Jim Calhoun, Center Fire Chief. Fire Departments from New London, Perry and Hannibal responded at approximately 11 p.m. when needed assistance was declared. The Hannibal crew brought their snorkel truck which permits firefighters to work above the blaze.
Mrs. Sherwin (Cindy) Smith, 26, and Mrs. Chuck (Jenny) Cunningham, 20, were taken by ambulance to Levering Hospital where they were admitted and treated for smoke inhalation. Treated and released were Amber Cunningham, 18 months, Chuck Cunningham, 22 and 16-month-old Brandon Smith.