WBOC archive video stills of the June 27, 1977 fire at the old Wicomico Youth & Civic Center in Salisbury.
SALISBURY, Md.- It was 35 years ago Wednesday that a devastating fire consumed a Salisbury landmark. The old Wicomico Youth & Civic Center went up in flames, destroying more than just a building.
The day was June 27, 1977. The sight was unforgettable: flames spreading so quickly, fire crews on the scene could not even get close enough to fight their course of destruction; smoke billowing in thick black clouds, visible from as far away as Princess Anne to the south and Laurel, Del., to the north.
"I remember that day very well," recalled Bill Robinson.
Robinson was nearing his senior year of college and working at the old Salisbury Mall right across the street from the Civic Center.
"I heard a boom shortly before noon and went outside to see what the noise was and almost instantaneously, the building was shooting flames out the sides and the top," he explained.
Robinson said it was like a scene from a movie.
"The flames hit a transformer. The transformer exploded. Thought I was watching Star Wars in person."
Nearly 100 children were inside the Civic Center that day. All of them made it out just in time and miraculously, no one was hurt.
While the main building was destroyed, crews were able to save an addition. The Midway Room still stands – a memory of a building meant so much to the community.
"My high school prom, graduation, like a lot of folks of my generation. And to see that building just disappear, in a matter of just a couple minutes was really a sad, sad thing," noted Robinson. "It was probably one of the touchstones of my life in terms of becoming an adult, realizing that my childhood was behind me."
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