On Tuesday, August 10, 1909, an explosion at the Murray Electric Light & Power Co. left Monticello’s business section ravaged. Flames quickly engulfed the power plant and rapidly spread to the Palatine Hotel and Casino, the Strong & Co’s book store, the S. L. Strong’s grocery store, the T. H. Dougherty’s harness store, and John Lyon’s law office. Traveling further along Strong Block, the telephone central office and W. C. Oddo’s tailoring and furnishing store, Preston’s barber shop, and Frank Ray’s household goods were also lost to this massive fire.
As winds picked up, the fire continued to spread down Broadway (Main Street had just recently been renamed) and continued to destroy everything in its path. As hard and as much as firefighters worked, the fire was so strong, it burnt through the night, and all the businesses had to be rebuilt.