Bowling Green Fire Department, 1898

Fire Flashback: 70 Firefighters Battle Blaze, June 21, 1992

Bowling Green in 1912, when CDS Drug Store was opened.

From the Daily News:
by Stan Regan

Explosions and fire that erupted in downtown Bowling Green early Saturday afternoon were brought under control after up to 70 firefighters battled the conflagration for nearly three hours. The fire damaged a section of one of the city's oldest businesses, CDS No. 1 Drug Store. It had been in business since 1912.

CDS Home Care-Surgical Supply warehouse, which occupied the three-story Charles Building at 407 Park Row, was in flames after something inside the buildign exploded near it's second floor or roof just before 2 p.m. according to city police. The CDS warehouse, which adjoins CDS No. 1 Drug Store at 401 Park Row2, is the former location of Charles Department Store adn the National Store. There apparantly were no serious injuries.

The fire was under control by 4:30 p.m. according to Bowling Green Fire Chief Vindell Webster, but firefighters remained on the scene controlling residual smoke. Webster said the cause of fire is unknown. There was no immediate estimate of damages.

The law office of Jeffrey R. O'Grody at 408 E. 10th Ave., was extensively damaged. The roof of that buildign collapsed after a section of the warehouse fell on it. Firefighters sprayed water into O'Grody's office to prevent the fire from spreading. Businesses in the rest of the block, which lies between State adn College streets, were evacuated, and employees and by-standers hastened to remove records, furniture and other valuables from their businesses.

A WKRN-TV Channel 2 news crew from Nashville was working on an unrelated story and taping part of its report across the street from a warehouse in Fountain Square Park when the explosion occurred.

"There was a loud, clanging sound, like metal pipes falling," said Rodney King, a WKRN videographer, "I thought there had been some kind of construction accident nearby. I turned around and then heard the explosion. It blew out the front window of the building and glass and metal were flying everywhere."

"Everybody heard a loud boom," said Lori Boone, owner of Some Wear in Time consignment boutique at 415 Park Row. Ms. Boone's store is two doors from the warehouse.

"I got my employees and customers out of the store," she said. "We saw black smoke billowing up from there as we came out, and then we heard another explosion."

Ms. Boone said flames then could be seen coming from a window of the warehouse.

Mary Strode of Bowling Green was buying a Father's Day card in CDS No. 1 when an explosion occurred.

"I heard glass flying, and it sounded like an atomic bomb," she said. "It shot glass clear out there in the road."

Mrs. Strode also was a former employee of the National Store, a business that had occupied the destroyed warehouse buildign. People in the drug store were also evacuated when the fire erupted, according to webster.

The owner of the CDS buildings, David C. Hancock, said all the medical equipment - including that stored in the warehouse and on the second floor of the buildings - would be lost to fire or smoke.

"Life goes on. No one was hurt. I've been very lucky," Hancock said.

Hancock said the buildings and their contents - which included such medical supplies as wheelchairs and seat lift chairs - were insured.

"I was in there a few minutes to 1 (p.m.) and there were absolutely no problems. I know of no reason why it would start," Hancock said. Hancock declined to estimate damages.

Firefighters from three Warren County volunteer fire departments - Alvaton, Richardsville and Plano - were called in to fight the blaze, and a ladder truck from Scottsville raced 25 miles to the scene, according to Bowling Green police Sgt. Mari Harris.

"They've had more than 70 fire personnel on the scene," Sgt. Harris said, "They had been trying to contain the fire to that area."

Firefighters fought to contain the fire on Park Row, according to Webster.

"That's our top priority," he said.

The fire occurred on Bowling Green's Fountain Square in teh heart of the city's downtown district. City fire and police personnel blocked most of the downtown area adjacent to the fire.  No one was injured in the blast that started the fire. However, some firefighters sufferred minor injuries and were treated at the scene for cuts and heat exhaustion, according to Sgt. Harris.

Extra police were called in to assist and were expected to remain on the scene with fire personnel throughout the night, Sgt. Harris said.

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