Fire Destroys Historical Archive; Editor Missing
[by Boston Globe staff | Sept. 24, 1965]
Early in the morning of September 22nd, a fire broke out at the home of Dr. Julio Ehrillimbal, ethnobiologist and editor of The Journal of Exploratory and Experimental Pharmacology. The editorial offices and archive of the Journal, housed in a secondary structure on the property, were also consumed by the fire.
The Wayland Fire Department, located just past the Old Sudbury Road and Cochituate Road interchange—barely five hundred feet from Dr. Ehrillimbal's house on the corner of Library Lane and Old Sudbury Road—responded with two engine trucks. Firefighters were able to contain the blaze to the single property but, even with their rapid deployment, were unable to prevent the destruction of the two buildings. "Once the site has been completely secured, and we are certain the fire has been put out, we will conduct a full investigation," said Fire Chief Dexter Nyguard. "At this point, the possibility of arson or some other man-made cause is just speculation."
Harriet Truman, 72, a retired seamstress who lives on Library Lane, reports being awakened by a booming noise. "I don't sleep all that soundly any more, and it doesn't take much to wake me," she said. "Whatever it was, it rattled my windows, and knocked some of my china off the shelves downstairs. When I got up to go downstairs, I saw the light coming through the curtains of my upstairs sitting room."
Jethro Duglan, a US Postal Carrier who served in the Army during WWII, was one of the many locals who were drawn out of their houses by the sudden blaze. "I saw some firebombing in France," he said. "It was just like this. Nothing, and then boom! Everything's burning."
Two bodies have been recovered from the fire. Dr. Ehrillimbal, recently divorced from his wife, Gabriella, was reportedly living alone in the house. The bodies are badly burned, making identification difficult, and Fire Chief Nyguard has no comment as to their identity. "There is a lot we don't know about this fire. We don't know how it happened; we don't know who the victims are: their relationship to each other, to the fire."
The Journal of Exploratory and Experimental Pharmacology, an academic journal published in association with the Harvard Medical School, is best known for its series of monographs about Dr. Ehrillimbal's journey up the Amazon river in 1954 and 1955. Dr. Ehrillimbal has been the editor of the Journal since 1960.