The Ypsilanti Daily Press published this story on Monday, July 11, 1938
Extensive damage occurred at the Central Specialty Company (located on north west corner of Forest and Norris Streets) this morning, when a destructive fire swept the foundry, main unit of the plant, and leveled it to a mass of twisted sheet iron and charred framework.
The blaze started at the height of a severe electrical storm, and was attributed to lightning. No estimate of the damage was available today, but the loss is fully covered by insurance.
The fire was discovered by two men who were just reporting for work, after it had already gained considerable headway. Firemen, summoned immediately, were handicapped from the start, as gates in the iron fence surrounding the grounds were locked and time was lost in scaling them and running the hose underneath while employees were trying to break the fastenings with sledgehammers.
The task of fighting the fire was made more difficult by the type of construction of the building, and the fact that flames had consumed a considerable portion of the molding room before the fire department was summoned. A stiff breeze from the east was an added hazarded.
The fire apparently stated in the heart of the plant, a frame building covered with corrugated iron. It burned very rapidly and made a spectacular picture with flames leaping in te air against a background of smoke. Heavy showers failed to curb the conflagration, which spread westward, eventually damaging a large core room to a considerable extent. An eighty foot tower-like section on the bank of the Huron River was the last to be ignited. Flames outlined the ridge at the top and leapt around a ventilator. The fire was so high that water from the hose did not touch it and it was necessary to attach the pumper to obtain sufficient pressure. In all, five lines of hose were used and the fire was under control within two hours of the call.
Flying embers were carried westward and did little damage, most of them falling into the river.
Ypsilanti police officers stayed at the scene to keep spectators back from the walls of the building, most of which fell.
Despite the handicaps under which they worked, firemen were able to save the new sections of the buildings.
Although a great deal of water was used this morning for the fire, there was little drop in city water pressure as he tower tank is kept full for just such an emergence, according to water department officials.
The most serious loss sustained in addition to the buildings was damage to the overhead cranes. The cupolas are still intact and the cupola used for work from mail order houses is situated in another building.
Operations halted by destruction of the building will be resumed in about a week, plant officials estimated. About 250 men were to have returned to work today after a 10-day layoff.
As soon as insurance adjustments have been made, it is planned to erect a new, more modern building to replace the burned one.
(By the end of the year, the damage was repaired, and the men called back to work.)