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Lake County Past: Feb. 6

Jan. 28, 1943

Harbor Theatre gutted by fire

The Harbor Theatre was gutted by fire that started with an explosion about 1:30 a.m. Monday and nothing remains but the start gray walls that once housed a beautiful theater built five years ago. Efforts of the Two Harbors Volunteer Fire Department, which made its appearance less than five minutes from the sounding of the alarm, were hampered by the 12-below-zero weather and a frozen hydrant on Second Avenue and Sixth Street, which necessitated running a host to the corner of First Avenue and Sixth Street.

The alarm was turned in by Ahti Wiita, an attendant at the Tourist garage across the street. He was adjusting tire chains on a bus when he was attracted by an explosion which blew glass from the doors and windows of the theatre to the garage.

"Tongues of flame," he said, "extended halfway across the street."

The firemen on their arrival at the scene found the smoke and fumes so think they were unable to enter the building to decide where to make an attack on the flames. The fire by that time had gained headway to the projection room where the ignition of cellulose films, no doubt, created the acrid fumes which no one could penetrate without the aid of a gas mask. The flames were held in check so that at no time were adjoining buildings imperiled, and the only damage outside of the site of the fire was to the People's Market, which had its basement flooded with water.

Future plans not settled

The Harbor was built five years ago at a cost of about $60,000 and housed the first-run shows. Manager Donald Grengs was unable to state the plans for the future, but stated that it is quite improbable that the theater will not be operated until the end of the war on account of priorities with which to obtain building material and the utter impossibility of obtaining theatre fixtures and projection equipment because of the demand for this kind of equipment at this time on account of government need.

The management, which also operated the State Theatre, will transfer its first run shows which always appeared at the Harbor to the State and will serve Two Harbors theatergoers always with the best releases of the moving picture industry. The loss of the Harbor will tax the capacity of the State where the seating capacity was somewhat reduced when it was remodeled three years ago, and cinema fans must undergo this at the must all rationing until priorities make it possible to rebuild the Harbor and make it possible to car for everyone who loves the cinema.

Assisting the firemen who put out the blaze were five coast guardsmen, stationed here, who volunteered their help. They battled the blaze right along with the firemen until the blaze was under control.