Ann Erdman is the Public Information Officer for the City of Pasadena, California.
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Friday, April 2, 2010
Mystery History -- Solved (Really)
Bellis wins for her 2:34 p.m. Wednesday guess "Fire at the Orban Lumber Yard at the corner of Green Street and Pasadena Avenue on the 23 March 1958. Sad to see so much wood go up in smoke."
Sure enough, in the photo above, the place went up in a blaze of glory after 54 years of business.
This was no small incident, as evidenced in these photos:
The fire was in the pre-dawn hours of March 23, 1958.
Established in 1904, Orban Lumber was a fixture in town until the fateful night of the devastating fire. It was founded by Peter Orban, who became a prominent Pasadena businessman active in the Chamber of Commerce. Orban Lumber expanded into Whittier in 1913 and the Inland Empire soon after.
Pasadena was incorporated as a city in 1886 and the Pasadena Fire Department was established the following year with a whopping budget of $1,000.
It took a little time to get the ball rolling. The event that started it all was in 1885 when some boys threw a stone into a building that was being used by Chinese immigrants as a laundry. The stone tipped over a kerosene lamp, starting a fire that burned the building to the ground.
Here's a photo circa 1910 of a horse-drawn fire wagon in Central Park.
Pasadena's very first fire station was on Dayton Street between Fair Oaks and De Lacey. The building still stands today at 37 W. Dayton St.
The Pasadena Fire Museum is at Station 31, 135 S. Fair Oaks Ave. right across the street from Central Park and around the corner from that first station. Stop by sometime and take a look at the historic photos and other memorabilia.
And be sure to say hello and thanks to the firefighters while you're there!