Vintage Baltimore fire films from 1968 & 1962

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As expected, our readers came through and identified the two Baltimore fires. The one above was  at 439 Guilford Avenue.  A three-alarm fire on November 1, 1968. So, I was in the ballpark on where that one was. I believe that would make the overpass in the background of the last shot the Orleans Street Viaduct and not the Jones Falls Expressway.

I was ways off on my guess on the one below (black & white). I didn’t study this one like the other, but our readers did and tell us it was a 12-alarm fire at the Shapiro Rag Company at 1650 Union Avenue on May 10, 1962.  Here’s some more from the comments that arrived:


If the date is right my records show a vacant 3-story building at 439 Guilford Avenue on November 1, 1968 3-Alarms on Box 3122 at 1:43 PM

Paul Novak Jr

I believe the B&W film from 1962 is the Shapiro Rag Company at 1650 Union Avenue. The fire occurred on 5/10/62 and went to 12 alarms.

William Britcher

Dave the Black & White fire from 1962 is in the Clipper Mill area of Baltimore – Union Ave / Clipper Mill Rd. The building you see @ 1731 in the film is 1619 Union Ave-Clipper Mill Inn. From the direction the hose is going and the direction people are looking the fire building must be North of Union Ave.


The two video players you see on this page include news film from the WMAR-TV (Baltimore’s Channel 2) archives that are in the University of Baltimore’s Langsdale Library Special Collection. I’ve been somewhat aware of this collection, but my friend and former co-worker at Channel 9 in Washington, Tom Buckley, sent me a message today (Saturday) to look at 6:35 in the video above.

It’s a multi-alarm fire in an industrial section of Baltimore from early November, 1968. Screen grabs from this one are below. There is no information with the film.

From studying it a bit the exposure D (or 4) building appears to be the Bradley-Reese Paper Company. Searching Bradley-Reese I found that the company once was in that restored five-story building in the 300 block of West Pratt Street directly across from the Baltimore Convention Center. But this is not that building and is a later location for the company. Besides the railroad siding across the street, there is an elevated roadway nearby (in the background of the last shot .. could it be the Jones Falls Expressway?). Due to the flames, I am having a tough time reading the name on the fire building. It looks like Scabbard Distributors, but I am not sure. I am certain someone in Baltimore will provide the details.

The one at the bottom of the page is black and white film from May, 1962 (begins at 14:51). It’s a very large industrial building. I haven’t had time to study it, though it likes like something in South Baltimore (but I’m sure I’m wrong).

Besides the fires, there is a lot of interesting film to look at from Baltimore in the 60s and some of the characters many of us more senior people remember well. Enjoy,

MD Baltimore old fire 1 11-68

MD Baltimore old fire 2 11-68

MD Baltimore old fire 3 11-68

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MD Baltimore old fire 1 5-62

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