I was 7 when a hotel fire killed four people in Bath, the city I was growing up in. It was on the street where I lived and went to school and would graduate from high school. I remember little of the fatal fire at the big hotel on the corner near Sagadahoc County Courthouse, not nearly as much as I remember from personal events from that age.
I don’t think I had ever been inside the hotel and don’t think I had any ties to it, so the deaths, a concept I knew little of then, when my whole family was still alive, and the missing hotel, are all I recall, and those, faintly.
For older residents and the hotel’s long history of staff and guests, it may have been, besides the horrible losses of life, the end of another piece of the city’s, their hometown’s, past, like Bath’s Opera House that is no more and another downtown landmark, Hallett’s drug store, which I remember vividly for all the family trips there for ice cream.
Town and city scapes change with planning and with commerce and, occasionally, tragedy. At press time Tuesday, after a fire the night before destroyed Beach Cove Waterfront Inn in Boothbay Harbor, I was wondering what is next for the spot and what memories people will be sharing of the hotel long a part of some of my colleagues’ hometown.
But mostly I was thankful for the difference between Monday’s hotel fire and the 1973 one in Bath, in that early reports were this one claimed no one. And for all the impacts a fire can have, when it claims no one, that is plenty reason for thanks.