Remembering Ocala's Thanksgiving Day Fire

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OCALA, Fla., (WCJB) --- Thanksgiving is about more than just the turkey. It's about reflecting on what we're thankful for and remembering our history.

"I'm very thankful for family and friends. I have a fiancé at home, my family, my parents, my sister,” said Firefighter Jonathan Simms.

"This year is a little different than most. I just had a brand new baby. This is her first Thanksgiving,” Firefighter Eric Young added.

But we also reflect on our history.

"The City of Ocala has one of the oldest fire departments in the state of Florida. We were established in 1885, subsequent to a fire, a Thanksgiving Day Fire in 1883 that destroyed all of downtown Ocala,” said Fire Chief Shane Alexander.

According to initial reports, the fire originated at the Benjamin Building at the corner of Northeast First Ave and the main street, now known as Silver Springs Boulevard.

"And that fire ended up engulfing all of downtown which included the Star-Banner, the original banner, also the courthouse, hotels, everything downtown was destroyed but as a resilient, immediately, the next year in 1884 they started rebuilding everything,” Alexander added.

To this day, it is still unknown what caused the fire but it's suspected that a lamp may have been accidentally knocked over.

And while the Thanksgiving Day Fire happened 130 years ago, it reminds us all to remember what this day is all about.