Sept. 15, 1908: A fire that starts in a pile of wood shavings at George A. Crossman & Sons lumberyard in Saco consumes 15 acres of lumberyards, more than 20 tenement buildings, several factories and some railroad property in Saco and Biddeford.

The flames spread from the Crossman site to the roofs of nearby homes. When those begin to burn, they discharge embers that are carried by the wind across the Saco River and set the Diamond Match Co. lumberyards ablaze. Those eventually are destroyed, despite the efforts of the Biddeford and Saco fire departments and a bucket brigade.

About 40 families are left homeless.

In all, the blaze consumes about 1 million board feet of lumber.

A persistent drought made the fire danger greater than usual and wind fanned the flames.

Joseph Owen is an author, retired newspaper editor and board member of the Kennebec Historical Society. Owen’s book, “This Day in Maine,” can be ordered at To get a signed copy use promo code signedbyjoe at checkout. Joe can be contacted at:


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