The city of DuBois had three major fires between 1880 and the “big fire” of June 18, 1888, when much of the downtown area was destroyed.
Many structures were made of wood and were reduced to ashes. Brick structures were severely damaged and gutted.
The alarm sounded at 2 p.m., with the fire beginning at the Baker House, a three-story wooden building, at the corner of Franklin and Booth streets, now known as Long Avenue.
DuBois, then, had a small fire company and inadequate firefighting equipment to combat such a blaze. John E. DuBois, the lumber baron, sent an urgent telegram to Renovo in order to get a fire engine, likely a horse-drawn steam pumper. It arrived by train at 6 p.m.
There were 166 businesses and homes in the affected area when the fire began. By that evening, six structures were left and 500 people were homeless.
A local resolution was passed making it “unlawful for any person or persons to erect any wooden building house, store, stable, barn or warehouse on Long Avenue or on Booth Street (now Brady Street), nor shall anyone erect any building of any material other than stone, brick or any other non combustible material.”
Mr. DuBois opened his store and cared liberally for the survivors. DuBois became a great encampment of bedraggled and homeless citizens.
The photo portrays a scene that looks nearly identical to a war zone. Ten days after the fire, the DuBois Volunteer Fire Co. was formed. It has progressed to become one of the best in Pennsylvania.