Salo became a township by the declaration of Emperor Alexander III in 1887. The Salo Fire Memorial Plaque, located at the market Square by the pedestrian bridge, is the oldest monument in Salo. It was unveiled in 1937, on the 50th anniversary of the township of Salo. The plaque says: “From this place on the 15th of July in 1887, from the outbuilding of the tanner Luhr there started a fire that burned the main part of the township of Salo to ashes.” On the 100th anniversary of the fire, a fire hook and chain were placed next to the plaque in order to remind people of the firefighting of the old days.
The start of the fire and the investigation into it comprised a real drama. The official explanation given was that the fire had started from a spark from the chimney of the steamship Nystad. More widely suspected, however, was Luhr’s tenant, the merchant Uno Agates Wendell, who was on the verge of bankruptcy. On the morning of the fire, a debtor had come to settle the books, but Wendell had asked him to return at noon. The fire broke out an hour before the meeting. Moreover, Wendell was also well prepared for the fire. When it started, the residents and servants were elsewhere. Already at the time, people thought that the investigation into the cause of the fire was a scandal. Rumour goes that the investigators and suspects were drinking champagne together in the evening. No evidence was found, and Wendell and Luhr were given fire insurance compensation. The total damage of the fire was estimated to be 600,000 Finnish marks. After the fire, reconstruction based on the new town plan resulted in a local economic upturn.