Friday May 26th 1950. Around 1:49 am in the morning, Security Guard F.W. Jones first spotted the flames. It was believed to have started in the Paint Shop and rapidly spread to the surrounding buildings. It consumed the West side of New York Street, including the Alley Way, the Power House, the Paint Shop, the Mill and the entire Scenic Wall, Water Spill way and Tank. Embers also blew over to the Western Street 'A' and engulfed two structures there as well.
A map showing where the fire started and how far it spread
The Paint Shop is where the fire was believed to have started. The structure on the right is the Power House.
With the Dept. Store already gone, fire consumes the massive Water tower and Scenic Wall.
The fire was the largest the Ranch endured at the time. The original Department Store and the Theatre on New York street were the biggest sets lost there along with the 250 foot tall Water Tank/Spillway and 180 foot long Scenic Wall behind those sets. Numerous productions were being filmed at the time, including the movie 'The Mob'. The filming for this continued on other locations on the Ranch but did make use of the damaged area and can be seen in the movie itself.
It was estimated at the time that the total, loss due to the fire, was around $600.000. Repairs begin almost immediately the next day as several productions were scheduled to start shooting again on the Wednesday. However, Columbia took the opportunity to update the look of New York Street and did not opt to rebuild from the original Blue Prints but rather create new designs. The Theatre was moved to Modern Place and the Alley way was replaced by a new Department Store. Also a Court House facade was added near the end, directly across from the Kirby Building.
The new Department Store and Court House under construction.
Construction crew working on the new facades on New York Street.
A view of the affected area with foundation for the new facades already in place.
The construction area as seen in the movie 'The Mob'