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Downtown Traverse City Fire, 1963 | Jane Boursaw Photo
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I came across this video of a massive fire which took place in downtown Traverse City, Michigan, on Dec. 12, 1963. I was only three years old at the time, so don’t remember it, but the video was posted by Suzanne Weiler on YouTube. Her father, Richard P. Weiler, was the sheriff and county fire chief at the time, and can be seen in the white coat and helmet.

The main source of the fire was the Elks Club, which at the time was located on a second floor location on Front Street, on the same block as the State Theatre and J.C. Penney (where Horizon Books is now located). The fire also burned several of the surrounding buildings, many of which were built between 1880 and 1960.

As Suzanne notes, there’s no respiratory protection on any of the firefighters, and I’ll just add that it looks extremely perilous on the tops of those swaying ladders.

Note that there’s no audio with the video.

Do you remember the fire? Leave thoughts in the comments section below.

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