FIRESIDE RESTAURANT 3307 Whitney Avenue Thanksgiving Day (and Night) Thursday, November 23, 1967
The Fireside Restaurant lived up to its name on Thanksgiving Day 1967. Shortly after noontime, Capt. Don Steele of the Mt. Carmel Volunteer Fire Co. was driving south on Whitney Avenue in his '65 Dodge wagon. As he approached the "Big Y" (Yantic Beef Co.) just north of Sherman Avenue, he thought he saw smoke coming from the Fireside Restaurant right across the street. Don slowed down in front of the century-old wood frame building to take a closer look. He was right. It was smoke, and it wasn't coming from the chimney.
Luckily, Box 17 was mounted on a utility pole nearby on the corner of Whitney and Sherman. Don tripped the lever inside the box which tranmitted the alarm to all Hamden fire stations. Every gong and Gamewell tape register tapped out the alarm four times: one strike followed by seven strikes. The first alarm companies listed for Box 17 were Engine 5, Engine 4, Rescue 2, Ladder 1 and Car 30.
Ff. Dave Howe
Station 5 was less than a mile away. Engine 5, driven by Firefighter Dave Howe, arrived in less than four minutes. Senior man Firefighter Fred Fletcher transmitted "10-8" for a working fire. It was going to be another busy holiday for Hamden firefighters.
A working fire in that part of Hamden also brought out Co. 5 and Co. 9 volunteers, who were toned out right away. Co. 5's volunteers responded from their homes. Their apparatus was Co. 5's "paid" engine, already on scene. Co. 9 volunteers responded with their apparatus, Engine 59, the 1942 Diamond-T. ("Paid" Engine 9 was still more than a year off.) Car 53, the 1952 Dodge utility truck, responded from the Shop on special call.
Don later made the following entry in his notebook,"11/23 - 12:30 ± - Fireside Restaurant Whitney Avenue. Tone sounded when [Fred] Fletcher, [Dave] Howe and I were laying a line after I pulled the box! 9 [Co. 5 volunteers] responded: Steele, Steele, Pedersen, Pedersen, Spencer, Johnson, Dougan, Hurlburt (Sr), and Clemons. Caught it just in time. Tim and I were late for Thanksgiving Dinner!"The two Steeles were Don and his son, Tim. The two Pedersen's were Find and his brother Anders.
Don's follow-up notation:"11/24/67 - 1:20 AM - Almost exact ditto of above except someone else pulled the box - and a lot more fire." The early morning rekindle was seen as suspcious.
From Historic Hamden (Hamden Historical Society: 1976), "This was originally a one and one-half story house with five rooms and three fireplaces. In the 1820's it was moved from the route of the Farmington Canal and relocated across Whitney Avenue. It was then made into a two-story house."
Suspicious rekindle in the early morning hours of Friday, November 24, 1967 - Ventilating the roof - CLICK to enlarge (John Mongillo, Jr.)
This is an aerial view of what the vicinity of Whitney and Sherman looked like at the time of the fire. Totally reconfigured in the early 1980s, the only buildings still standing today are the church, parish house, the Fireside Restaurant building and the white building just south of it. "X" marks where Sherman Avenue now exits to Whitney. (CLICK to enlarge)
Nov. 2014 - "The Fireside" is Andale's Mexican Restaurant. The large addition to the rear was added since 1967.