All excerpts are courtesy of
Dolores Ford Mobley and the Kimundy
Express. Learn more
about Kinmundy here.
Click on either icon below
for a printable file of the K-A Fire History 1883-1951
Acrobat Reader File
Microsoft Word File
March 7, 1940:
In the special city
election held Friday for the issuance of $1000 worth of bonds for the
improvement of the fire engine and engine house, there were 120 votes cast. The
tally shows 115 voted yes and 5 voted no. From what has been reported to us, it
is the plan of the city council to purchase a new truck chassis and mount the
pump from the old engine on it. This should make a good fire engine. We couldn’t
ask for better work than is done by this old engine after it reaches the scene
of fire, but it is necessary very often, to push it a part of the way at least.
When the new truck is purchased it will be necessary to widen the doors to the
engine room. Thus the necessary repairs to the engine house was included in the
bond issue. As soon as this is all done, Kinmundy will then have some mighty
fine fire fighting equipment.
March 28, 1940:
A dance will be given on
April 12 in the high school gym for the benefit of the Kinmundy Fire Dept. The
newly organized Chamber of Commerce will sponsor the dance.
- The Fireman’s ball given
made a profit of $328.58.
May 9, 1940:
The Kinmundy Chamber of
Commerce held their regular monthly meeting in the basement of the Kinmundy
Christian Church Tuesday with 32 members and 3 guests present. Mr. A. GORMAN,
Train Master, and Mr. FORTH, Traffic Agent of the Illinois Central Railroad of
Champaign, and Mr. P.E. BRANCH of San Antonio were the speakers. A delicious
dinner was served by the ladies of the church. In the business meeting, Carl
DUNLAP reported that the organization of a volunteer fire department was
May 16, 1940:
The new electric fire
siren has been mounted above the fire bell and is now ready to go. When it was
being tested last week, it could be heard for several miles, which is an
improvement over the old bell. Arrangements are now being made with the Bell
Telephone Co. whereby a switch can be placed in the telephone office to be
operated by the telephone operators. There is also a switch at the bell tower.
The pump from the old fire engine has been mounted on a new Ford truck chassis.
The old chemical tank was discarded and was replaced with a tank which will be
filled with water.
May 30, 1940:
$10,000 Fire in
Kinmundy: Another one of Kinmundy’s old landmarks passed into history Sunday
morning when this old frame building owned by C.B. ROHRBOUGH, H.L. WARREN, the
ROHRBOUGH estate and George H. BARGH, was destroyed by fire. This building was
occupied by John CURRY Barber Shop, R.J. FULFER Café, Dr. G.P. DOUGHERTY office,
2 vacant store rooms, and 3 sleeping apartments occupied by the FULFER family,
Mr. Frank WILSON and Mr. Sam BANGS. Len LEWIN, who was at work at his cheese
factory, noticed a blaze as if an oil stove had exploded in a back window of one
of the upstairs apartments. The blaze soon disappeared and he thought no more
about it until about a half hour later when he noticed smoke coming from the
eaves of the building. Then he turned in the alarm. It was not long before
several were on the scene. But the blaze could not be located. Soon there was an
explosion and then the whole building appeared to be in flames. Then help from
Salem, Farina and St. Peter was summoned and it was not long before they were on
the scene. The 4 engines pumped water from the well on the square into which a
pipeline was laid only last year from the Illinois Central Water tank. The
firemen battled the flames from 8 a.m. until noon. The contents of the CURRY
Barber Shop, FULFER’s Café, and Dr. DOUGHERTY’s office were mostly saved.
Practically nothing was saved from the sleeping apartments. During the course of
the fire, there were 2 explosions. The first came as we explained before. At
that time there were several men on the roof and some just ready to burst in an
upstairs window. But the blast sent them all hurrying to the ground. The second
came when the fire was at it’s best. Just what this was, no one knows, but at
the time there were small fragments of iron flying thru the air. Some were of
the opinion that an old cannonball had exploded. Mr. ROHRBOUGH had old Civil War
relics stored in his building and there was one of the old cannonballs cast
hollow and filled with powder, and the heat exploded it. Taking everything into
consideration, there is no question but what the fire really started in the
apartment occupied by Mr. BANGS, supposedly from an oil or gasoline stove. The
brick building owned by J.R. TELFORD just across the alley east was damaged
considerably. The building north, owned by W.S. PRUETT and occupied by COLE &
ROLLINSON was damaged considerably by water. A light rain aided considerably in
keeping the flames from spreading. This building was one of the very first
buildings built in the business district. As near as we can trace its history,
it was built in the early 60's. And for the past 50 years, it has been
considered a fire hazard, but it has seen some mighty fine brick buildings
destroyed across the street. Under present conditions, it will not be rebuilt.
Both the Bell Telephone Co. and the Central Illinois Public Service Co.
sustained considerable loss to some of their equipment. Guin VALLOW had presence
of mind enough to run home after his camera and during the scene, made 44 shots.
It was estimated that 1000 visitors came from other towns nearby to witness the
ruins. (Pictures of the fire were included in this issue.)
- The City Council has
appointed Carl DUNLAP as fire chief of a volunteer fire department. He called
some of the boys together Monday and the group selected 3 assistants, B.F.
LINTON, 1st Lieut.; E.O. ZIMMER, Captain; and Ralph FEATHER, 2nd Lieut. Alonzo
CHURCH was elected secretary-treasurer. Nozzel Men: Len LEWIN, Walter MURPHY,
J.B. MAXEY, E.E. BROWN.
Hose: E.R. LOWE; Ora SCHWABE,
Ralph LUX, R.J. FULFER, Wayne PIGG, James PIGG, George BARGH.
Engine: P.F. ROBNETT, W.G.
SNELLING, Elwin INGRAM, Jim EAGAN.
Salage: Alonzo CHURCH, G.R.
ROLLINSON, Lester HOWELL, J.N. VALLOW, J.R. MAHAN, F.A. MOTCH.
Coupling: Jesse GEORGE, D.J.
ALEXANDER, William COLE, L.C. INGRAM.
Suction Hose: Harry BURGE,
Elwin TROUT, and Richard SCHWABE.
A meeting will be held Friday
evening at the City Hall. Those who are not there will be fined 25 cents. There
will be a drill that evening.
Aug. 15, 1940:
The barn on the Clyde
HIESTAND farm east of Brubaker caught fire Tuesday morning and burned to the
ground. The farm is operated by Mr. and Mrs. Ralph HIESTAND, who sustained the
loss of the hay and grain in the barn, his harness, and 20 sacks of grass seed.
The Frank EMBSER threshing machine was threshing red top on the farm and blowing
the hay into the barn. They had threshed the day previous and had threshed about
45 minutes that morning when the fire started. No one knows how the fire started
but the barn seemed to be ablaze all of a sudden. 3 calves, 21 sacks of grass
seed, and a tractor were rescued from the barn. The separator was hurriedly
pulled away but not until after the blower was damaged beyond repair and a new
one had to be made before threshing was resumed. Fires caused by threshing into
barns used to be numerous but this is the first one to occur within the past 3
or 4 years in this community.
Aug. 22, 1940:
The fire siren was touched
off Monday and the fire department responded to extinguish a grass fire in the
east end of town which was threatening the F.O. GRISSOM barn. The fire wasn’t so
big, but what could have been extinguished by means of sacks, but the boys
needed the practice anyway. Luckily, we have not had any fires during the dry
weather because we do not have very much water in the wells.
Nov. 7, 1940:
The residence of Earl
SHANAFELT in Alma caught fire yesterday and a call for help was sent here to the
local fire dept. Upon arriving, they found the fire had been extinguished by the
efficient bucket brigade of Alma. A small hole was burned in the roof.
The fire siren is still in
good working order but he department is not getting much practice. The siren
sounded last Friday and the engine made a run to the home of Lulu YOEDER on
account of a flu burning out. No damage was done. On Monday a run was made to
the Chas. GAMMON home where the flue was burning out. And this was under control
by the time the engine arrived.
April 24, 1941:
The Annual Fireman’s Ball
was held last Friday and was well attended. The receipts were about $125. The
money is to used to buy smoke masks for the fire dept. as well as some civic
improvement for the city and community in general.
Jan. 8, 1942:
Farina Business District
Threatened by Fire Tuesday; Total Damage Near $6000: Farina witnessed a fire in
the business district Tuesday afternoon which threatened the entire district.
The fire started in the Masonic Hall where most of the damage was done. The
janitor had built a fire in the lodge room as the Eastern Stars were to meet
that evening. As soon as he lighted the fire, an auto accident happened on the
highway directly in front of the hall. He left the hall to witness the accident.
When he returned, he found the ceiling ablaze. The alarm was spread and the St.
Peter and Kinmundy Departments were asked to come and help. The 3 departments
were able to confine the fire to which the Masonic Hall and Woodman Hall just
south of it. The Masons estimated their loss at $3000 which was partially
covered by insurance. The Kinmundy Lodge has offered use of their hall for the
time being. The Woodman Hall was damaged to some extent. The Randolph Jewelry
Store, which is located under the Woodmen Hall, and the Harvey Drug Store under
the Masonic Hall suffered quite a bit of damage from water. The Farina people
went to thank the Kinmundy department, but really, the credit is all due A.C.
DUNLAP and B.F. LINTON, who made the trip on the fire truck, because it was
certainly 1 cold trip for them.
April 30, 1942:
The united efforts of the
Salem, Centralia, Mt. Vernon, Odin and Flora Fire Departments late Monday night
failed to save the new Salem Theater Building from almost complete destruction,
but without question they saved the South Broadway block from a like fate. At
11:30 the south side door suddenly blew open freeing a cloud of smoke. Windows
also burst under the terrific gas pressure.
July 9, 1942:
Salem has had another
fire, this time the McMACKIN Furniture Store located on East Broadway. The fire
started about 10 o’clock last night on the second floor. The cause of the fire
is believed to be from bad wiring or from lightning running in on the wire. The
estimated damage is about $5000. The Salem fire department was called and much
damage was caused by water and smoke.
- Fireman Roy RAVER, 41,
of the Salem Fire Department was drowned yesterday in the swollen creek bout 2
and ˝ miles west of Salem on Route 50. RAVER and 3 other firemen were called out
to this bridge where it was reported that a car had been stalled in the creek
and was being swept down stream. As the firemen reached the scene, the car had
been pulled to safety by an Army truck but RAVER walked in the creek and was
reportedly swept under. The creek was 5 feet above the bridge.
Oct. 29, 1942:
The Allen School south of
Kinmundy was seriously threatened by fire late Wednesday, when a field east of
the school house caught fire and with the wind behind, burned toward the school.
The teacher saw that the fire was getting close to the school and took the
children out and to their homes. The Kinmundy Fire Dept. was called to the scene
of the grass fire and with the help of several men and neighbors, were able to
throw enough water on the School house and on the grass around the school to
keep the fire from doing any harm when it reached the school. The fire was the
second serious grass fire near Kinmundy in the past 2 weeks. The other fire was
north of Kinmundy on the O. GORDON farm.
Nov. 19, 1942:
A serious grass fire,
which started at the JACK place in Kinmundy twp., swept across miles of Meacham
twp. Thursday doing a lot of damage. The fire was helped by a strong south wind.
The fire was fought for several hours by the citizens of that township. The
Kinmundy fire dept. was called to the scene, but due to the lack of water they
were unable to do much to stop the fire. In the fire, Miss Florence STORRS lost
a large pile of hedge posts, and Lowell REESE lost 7 stacks of bean hay. The
fire then burned to the F.M. REESE farm, and was finally stopped by plowing and
Prairie Grove: The Kinmundy and Farina fire departments were called to the
vicinity Thursday to a field fire covering between 500-600 acres. A field of
corn burned for Glen McCARTY and several hay stacks of Lowell REESE burned.
Sept. 16, 1943:
Beginning Saturday of this
week, the fire siren will be sounded once at 12 noon each day. In case of fire,
there will be at least 2 blasts sounded. This is being done so that we will know
the siren is in working order at all times.
Nov. 25, 1943:
A northbound Greyhound bus
burned Sunday night between Kinmundy and Alma. It was a total loss, but luckily,
no passengers injured nor baggage burned. This was the regular Memphis to
Chicago bus. It was loaded with passengers, being about 40 in all, 15 of whom
were Kinmundy residents who had spent the evening in Salem attending the show
and were returning home. The driver had thought he smelled rubber burning and
stopped to make an examination. The bus soon burst into flames. There was 1 fire
extinguisher on the bus, but that was not enough, and the bus soon burst into
flames. It was supposed that a short circuit in the engine was the cause of the
Jan. 27, 1944
The fire siren was sounded
Saturday afternoon when a small blaze was discovered on the roof of the building
occupied by Mr. and Mrs. J.E. WILLIAMS. But due to the efficient fire department
the blaze was quickly extinguished with very little damage done.
The local fire department
was called out this morning to extinguish the flames from Burdette SHAFFER’s
smoke-house. The building was too far gone when the alarm was given and
consequently burned to the ground. Mr. SHAFFER was smoking his meat and when he
left for work last night, thought his fire was out. His entire supply of meat,
as well as many other things were burned.
March 16, 1944
Fire Department Makes Run:
Last evening, about 9 o’clock, the fire department was called to the home of
Mrs. Pauline WEST, in the west part of the city, and quickly extinguished a
blaze which caused about $250 damage. The fire was confined between the
studding which is evidence that the fire caught from the flue which is built on
the outside of the house. It took quite a while to get at the blaze.
The fire department was
called to the Kinmundy Ice Plant yesterday afternoon to be in readiness should a
burning exhaust from the engines get out of control. The fire burned itself out
and no damage was done.
July 17, 1947:
Fire Department Called to
Glen BRASEL home: A defective coal oil stove exploding and bursting into flames
caused considerable damage to the Glenn BRASEL home three miles north of this
city, Saturday afternoon. The Kinmundy Fire Department responded to a call
which came through the local telephone office. As the fire department arrived
at the scene, neighbors of Mr. BRASEL as well as himself, were fighting the fire
with a bucket brigade. The fire was held to the inside of the wall and roof
over the kitchen of the house. Only one large well provided the water at the
home. After a little confusion 50 feet of fire hose was laid. The fire
department was used for around 30 minutes still the stubborn blaze was
extinguished. Most of the damage to home was from water for while throwing on
gallons of water and afterwards the plaster in two rooms began to fall. Mrs.
BRASEL with the help from neighbors removed two rooms of furniture while the men
were fighting the fire. Mr. BRASEL reported that the house was fully covered by
insurance. As to our fire department, we might say the fighting equipment was
in far better shape than at previous fires. The city officials are trying to
replace and repair the department in order to keep it up in the best condition.
However, the city fire department would be a little more effective if the city
would organize a good volunteer department having each man learn to do a certain
thing, in this way the department could respond a little more quickly to fires,
and it would cause less confusion at the fire.
July 31, 1947:
Kinmundy Ice Plant has
second fire: Fuel oil around the large diesel engine in the Kinmundy Ice Plant
was the cause of a 5 a.m. fire Wednesday. The oilfire was started when the
exhaust from the engine burned out, thus causing the oil around the engine to
ignite. Mr. Ray GEORGE, who was on duty at this time in the morning, noticed
smoke coming thought the windows of the plant. After inspecting the engine, he
called for the city fire dept., then went to the roof of the building to watch
for fire. The city fire dept. arrived on the scene in a few minutes and laid
100 feet hose. The fire was placed under control a few minutes after their
arrival. Inspection afterwards showed no damage to the large engine or the
Young School Destroyed by
Fire Monday Evening: The one-room school house of School District No. 19, known
as the Young School, was completely destroyed by fire Monday evening. The
Kinmundy Fire Department was called by the building was too far gone to do any
good at all. The teacher, Mrs. Velma EDWARDS, has 13 pupils, and Mr. Earl LANE,
one of the directors who happened to be there to get his small daughter, left
the schoolhouse at 4 o’clock. The fire in the furnace had been banked for the
night as per usual. Thirty minutes later, neighbors discovered smoke pouring
from the attic and in just a few seconds, flames began to leap from the roof.
Just what really caused the fire, no one will ever know. But it is presumed
that possibly an overheated stove pipe was the cause. The neighbors say this
because just one day last week, the overheated pipe caused the building to catch
fire around the flue during school hours. The fire was quickly extinguished.
The building had been wired for electricity, and the wires from the poles were
strung just last Friday. But as yet, no electricity has been turned on. So it
couldn’t have been defective wiring. This building was built in the summer of
1916 after the former building was burned. So this is the second fire this
district has suffered. The building was partially covered by insurance. The
directors of the district held a short meeting directly after the fire and
declared a school holiday of one week until they can make arrangements to get
school started again or get the pupils in school somewhere.
Dec. 25, 1947:
Kinmundy High School Gym
Suffers $3,000.00 Loss in a Early Morning Fire: Over Heated Furnace Believed
Cause of Blaze: The Kinmundy Community High School Gym suffered a $3,000 or more
loss by fire about school time here Monday morning. The fire was caused by an
overheated furnace in the heating room of the local school gym. The Kinmundy
Fire Department was called at 8 a.m. when Mr. Mel BOYD, the school janitor
discovered the blaze and large amount of smoke. The local fire department laid
400 feet of hose in order to fight the stubborn blaze. The fire department
pumped the small well on the school ground dry in a short time, and then
continued pumping from the large well. Mr. BOYD reported that he had fired up
the furnace about 7 a.m. Monday morning for the high school morning assembly
which is held in the gym. He continued with his duties about the gym for awhile
and then fired the furnace again. Mr. BOYD continued his duties over at the
main school building for the next 30 minutes. About 8 a.m. he returned to the
Gym to check his fire. When he opened the south side door to the Gym, the smoke
coming out of the building forced him back. He closed the door and called for
the Kinmundy Fire Department. Mr. BOYD reported that Monday morning wasn’t any
different than any other morning this winter. He stated when he left the
building everything was in order and the blower of the furnace was working
properly. The main fire was located in the basement of the gym above the
furnace burning the top sills that supported the gym stage. The fire also
burned its way to the top part of the stage, causing the top part of the stage
curtain to catch afire. This in turn caught the fibre board ceiling afire.
This part of the fire was not noticed until the main fire of the basement was
put out. It was then the firemen noticed fire in the ceiling. At this time
the Farina Fire Department arrived on the scene. Their chemical hose was laid
and chemical was used in order to extinguish the ceiling fire. However, the
fire had spread so far that it wasn’t possible to extinguish the ceiling fire.
The local fire department then started pumping water again with a great amount
of water being used to stop this smoldering fire in the fibre board ceiling. In
all the local firemen fought the stubborn blaze for two hours. After the smoke
had cleared away, Mr. Lewis J.T. O’DELL, high school principal, had several of
the boys at work mopping up the water on the Gym floor in order to keep it from
being water damaged. It was either mop up water or be in English class, one of
the boys stated. Most of the damage was done by water and smoke. The remaining
fibre board-ceiling that didn’t burn was blackened by the smoke, with the wall
of the Gym black and water streaked. Carpenters were on the scene early in the
afternoon estimating the damage to the Gym and surveying the work to be done.
The School Boards had $10,000 fire damage on the Gym, and an insurance adjustor
arrived in Kinmundy Tuesday morning to make the adjustment of the fire damage.
Mr. O’DELL reported that he hoped that they could make the most of the repairs
on the Gym during the coming Christmas vacation. Mr. O’DELL also stated that
Mr. Paul MONICAL, Principal of the LaGrove Community H.S. of Farina had offered
the Kinmundy Community H.S. the use of their Gym for basketball practice or for
any of their home games till the local Gym is repaired. We think this swell of
Mr. MONICAL to do this. It is fine to have such fine neighbors to help our
local school. Of course, the friendship between our two towns is a little
strained when the two basketball teams meet. (Two pictures were included with
Jan. 15, 1948:
Town Meeting Well
Attended: Many citizens of Kinmundy were present at Tuesday night at the “Town
Meeting” sponsored by the Kinmundy Post of the American Legion which was held in
the Legion Hall. The meeting was called to order by Comd. Calvin BARBEE, with
the election of a chairman for the meeting in order. Mr. Carl DUNLAP was
elected as chairman and presided over the meeting. The main subject of the
evening was the repair of the Kinmundy Fire Engine. Mr. DUNLAP reported that he
had visited the HOWELL Fire Company in Anderson, Ind., and gave a report of his
findings. On a motion, two committees were appointed by the chairman. The
first committee, which consisted of five members, are to find out the equipment
that will be needed to place our fire engine in tip-top shape. Three different
fire fighting equipment companies have been contacted to send out
representatives to inspect our fire engine and give their estimated cost of
repair to this committee. The second committee will act as a finance committee;
they will plan and work out some type of program for raising funds to pay for
the new equipment. Both of these committees will meet with the city council in
a special meeting of the city council. The committee will report their findings
to the group at another “Town Meeting” which will be held the 22nd of
Feb. 5, 1948:
City Council Votes to
Purchase New Fire Engine at Regular Meeting: The City Council met in regular
session Monday evening with all members present. After the usual business was
disposed of, the proposition of buying a fire engine was discussed. For the
past few weeks, meetings have been held in the Legion Hall regarding the
improving of our fire department. Salesmen from different companies have been
present and presented the good features about their respective engines. The
members of the City Council were present at these meetings and so they know just
what the populace was expecting. The aldermen voted to buy a piston type
engine. Then the mayor appointed Lowell DISS, Ben JENKINS and James PIGG, as a
committee, to select the equipment needed and get the lowest price on the
installing of a piston type engine on our present truck chassis. It was the
consensus of opinion of the aldermen that a bond issue would have to be floated
in order to pay for this engine. A few interested citizens present offered to
underwrite the needed amount until the bonds could be sold, in order in hasten
the matter. We wish to commend the action of the City Council in going ahead
with the purchasing of the fire engine.
Feb. 26, 1948:
City Council To Take Final
Action Monday Night on New Fire Engine: The City Council will take final action
in their monthly meeting Monday night on the city fire engine. At their last
meeting the council voted to let the contract of repairing the engine to the
Howe Fire Fighting Equipment Co., of Anderson, Ind. A Howe representative was
here last week to confer with the city officials and a citizens committee. The
citizens committee along with the council’s committee are in favor of replacing
the old engine with all new equipment. When the local fire engine goes to the
factory for reports, the Howe Co. will provide the city with a fire engine so
the city will not be without fire protection.
March 4, 1948:
The regular meeting of the
City Council was held Monday evening. Action was to be taken on the proposition
of buying a new fire engine for the city. So there were several citizens
present, as well as representatives of a concern selling fire fighting
apparatus. At a previous meeting the council voted to by a piston type pump.
But his concern will not take no for an answer and are doing their best to sell
them a centrifugal pump. It is generally agreed by several representative
citizens as well as the councilmen, that a piston type pump will work to a
better advantage in our community, more especially because we do not have water
works support. Our present engine is of the piston type and has served its
purpose well, lasting over a period of about 25 years. But so many parts are
worn and some cannot be replaced. However, it is the intention of the
councilmen to use the present truck chassis under the new engine. This chassis
is in good shape and has been driven less than 500 miles. However, they do plan
to put on dual wheels and overload springs. The committee appointed at a
previous meeting of the purpose of getting bids and specifications.
The Kinmundy Fire
Department made two calls this week. The first was Monday morning around 11
a.m. to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Steve RAINEY in Alma. However, the fire was
under control when the department arrived. The fire was caused by oil leaking
under a oil heater. Some damage was reported. The second call was to the
residence of Mrs. W.B. VALLOW, Wednesday afternoon, when a grass fire got out
of control. Water from the engine’s booster tank was used with the fire being
brought under control in a few minutes.
April 1, 1948:
Omega: The house occupied
by Donald SHAFFER on the A.A. MILLICAN farm southeast of here, burned Monday
morning. Mrs. SHAFFER had built a fire in the summer kitchen to heat warm water
and had gone to the house to care for the baby. When she returned to the summer
kitchen, it was afire and the high wind quickly spread the flames to the house.
The fire department from Salem arrived but were unable to get to the fire on
account of the dirt road which was very bad.
Voters approve Bond Issue
For Fire Equipment: A special election was held Tuesday for the city of Kinmundy
and the voters placed their approval on a bond issue of $2500 for repairing the
fire engine. The vote was 74 - Yes; and 2 - No. This was evidently a surprise
to the members of the City Council because they were just a little doubtful
about it carrying. But we believe that they will always find the people of
Kinmundy behind them when it comes to making needed improvements of any kind.
July 8, 1948:
The Kinmundy Fire
Department made a call Saturday morning to the Leo STOCK farm south and east of
here. The department laid 200 feet of hose to fight a fire in the hayloft of
the barn. The smoke coming from the barn was discovered by members of the STOCK
family at 8:15 a.m. During the fire no blaze developed. Only a great deal of
smoke from the smoldering bean hay. The fire was believed to have started from
the bean hay overheating in the loft. This section of the barn roof was torn
off this spring in a wind storm, letting a great amount of rain in on the hay.
Aug. 12, 1948:
Businessmen and Citizens
Organized Volunteer Fire Company for Kinmundy: Kinmundy’s new fire engine was
delivered Sunday, Aug. 1, and has been pretty well scrutinized by most of the
populace. When the subject of buying a new engine was being discussed, it was
thought best that as soon as the new engine arrived, a volunteer fire company
should be organized. At a meeting held in the City Hall, Friday evening, Carl
DUNLAP, was elected by the body as the fire chief of the new Kinmundy Volunteer
Fire Company. E.O. ZIMMER was elected assistant chief, Jesse GEORGE, engineer,
and Wydell PIGG, secretary- treasurer. A group of 15 business men and citizens
were present at this organizing meeting. It was voted that the newly formed
company should follow a set of by-laws used in other cities throughout the
state. Each man at this meeting was given a job in conjunction with the new
engine which he will be held responsible to perform at each fire. The chief
appointed a committee of 3 to meet with the City Council at their next meeting
to report the company’s organization. The volunteers hope to be given complete
charge of the new engine. They believe in this way, the equipment will be kept
in better shape. The fire company will have two meetings each month, and at
those times, the engines will be used for practice. The company hopes to have
at least 5 members who will be thoroughly trained in the priming and operation
of the new centrifugal type pump. And also to be able to take complete charge
of a fire. One of the greatest improvements on this engine is the fog spray
nozzles which helps the hosemen to play a high pressure fog on the blaze using
far less water and using far less water damage than before. We hope these boys
will make a success of their newly formed organization.
Oct 28, 1948:
The newly organized
volunteer fire department made their first official run Wed. morning in response
to a call from the Hugh COPPLE farm two miles east of Kinmundy. The fire was
only the chimney burning out and a small section of wall paper catching fire.
The small blaze was out by the time the department arrived on the scene. Every
member of the volunteers reported and were at the scene of the fire.
April 7, 1949:
Mrs. MAXWELL Dies in
Effingham Hospital Fire: Mrs. Matilda MAXWELL of this city lost her life in the
St. Anthony’s Hospital fire in Effingham Monday night. Mrs. MAXWELL was a
patient in the 3rd floor of the hospital, and from all reports only a
few totaling less than four, were able to get to safety from this floor. Twelve
hours after the fire her body had not been found in the ruins of the 84 year old
hospital. By now most of our readers know all about the terrible fire that
gutted the Effingham Hospital. Effingham’s radio station went on the air three
hours before their regular time to give their listeners the latest news of the
disaster, and they did a splendid job throughout the day. Tuesday’s daily
papers carried scare face headings of the fire along with pictures during the
night and pictures of the ruins. Even news from Russia only got a small play up
in Tuesday’s papers. All you could read was eye witness stories from Effingham
people who were at the fire trying to help those patients to get out. As a
weekly paper, we can’t expect to make a big news break and be the first to let
the people know about a big news story as this fire was, but we can give you our
personal story of what we saw and how we felt at the scene of the fire. I
didn’t learn of the fire until about 5:45 Tuesday morning when Mr. Fred KLEISS
woke us to tell us of the fire. By 6:45 we were in the car rolling to Effingham
for pictures and what we could find out to report to our readers. By 7:20, we
were in Effingham, and at the hospital. A heavy smoke hung over the city as we
arrived at the scene. A news photo plane was making several passes at the ruins
photographing the scene from the air. After taking several pictures of the
ruins we talked to several people at the scene. One man stated to us, “I was
staying with my boy in the hospital when the fire broke out. I grabbed my boy
and the next one to him and made it out of the hospital. I then tried to return
to help out more, but it was then too late to do any good.” We talked to
Effingham’s Ass’t. fire chief, who stated that he was on the first fire truck to
reach the fire. He stated that it was the practice of the hospital to keep the
halls in fine order, keeping the floors highly waxed and polished. The chief
said, “I could hear the fire sweeping through the halls, just like a gasoline
trash fire.” And this is exactly what happened. The fire being fed by the wax
on the floor and the paint on the wall. It was a terrible sight for all to
see. Even the hardened newspaper photographers from the city showed this as
they went around recording this disaster on film. We noticed two or three
firemen playing a stream of water into the first floor window, and in a short
while came out with a body in a blanket. The bodies were taken to the rear of
the hospital to a large garage which served as a morgue. We saw relatives going
back to the morgue as a body would be removed from the ruins. Men who looked
like they could stand anything were crying as they went to the morgue. We later
saw firemen and helpers carrying blanket covered baskets from the nursery. We
couldn’t take too much of this, and went to the front of the hospital. We
noticed the hospital office worker had a list of all those in the hospital,
standing along with several sisters. It was wonderful how several of them could
remember how many people were in each room and their names too. It was from
this list we saw the name of Mrs. MAXWELL, who was on the third floor. From the
reports in the daily papers and from the reports at the scene of the fire, we
heard the fire chief state that two nurses had a chance to get out, but refused
to do so, but chose death and stayed with their patients. This deed was truly
living up to their oaths as nurses. We made five photos of the fire of which
you will see three in this issue due to the early morning when these photos were
taken and with the smoke still heavy around the ruins, the photos aren’t as good
as they would have been if the day had been clear. We hope that we have been
able to give you a word picture of this terrible fire for those of you who were
not able to go and see for yourself. As we go to press, we learn that the body
of Mrs. MAXWELL has not been identified. All the bodies have not been removed
from the ruins but they hope to complete the task today.
from Kinmundy Lose Life in Effingham Fire: According to the latest incomplete
official list of known dead in the St. Anthony’s Hospital fire, three persons
are from Kinmundy. At the present time, those that are identified from here are
the infant twins of Mr. and Mrs. Raymond SIGRIST, living north and east of
Kinmundy. Mrs. Cora CALDWELL, age 80, of Edgewood, sister of Mrs. George
SHUMAKER of this city, and aunt of Mrs. Glen JAHRAUS, and grandmother of Mr.
Jamie McGEE, local community high school teacher. Mrs. Matilda MAXWELL of this
city is known dead, but her body has not been found or identified yet.
74 Died in St. Anthony’s Fire: It is believed that 74 persons are dead or
missing in the tragic fire that swept through the St. Anthony Hospital Monday
night. By this morning the hospital registrar stated that of the 69 bodies
recovered, seven were still unidentified. Five other persons listed as missing
are presumed to be dead under the ruins. Complete records of the hospital were
destroyed by the fire, but hospital registrar stated that 124 patients and staff
members were believed in the building at the time of the fire. Effingham fire
officials stated today that it may be several days before all the bodies will be
recovered from the blackened ruins of the hospital. A sister stated that the
fire started in a laundry chute.
May 26, 1949:
Lightening Strikes PITTS
Home: There is nothing in the old saying that “lightening will not strike twice
in the same place”. About 2 years ago, Mr. and Mrs. Bryan PITTS had the living
daylights scared out of them when lightning struck the chimney on their house.
History repeated itself Monday evening at about 9 o’clock. Mr. and Mrs. PITTS
had just gone to bed when lightening again struck the chimney. They were soon
up and surveying the damage done. The house was filled with smoke and noises
coming from the attic sounded much like there was fire there. Bryan drove his
Ford to town and spread the alarm. The siren was sounded and the volunteer fire
department was soon on the run in a downpour of rain. On their arrival they
found the smoke had died down and they couldn’t find any fire. However, the
inside of the house was covered with soot. When our fire engine was rebuilt,
some wanted to have a cab or at least a windshield put on the truck. Others
thought that was just a lot of tommy rot and added expense. But anyone who
makes a run with the truck in a downpour of rain will tell you different.
Besides being drenched to the hide, they couldn’t make any speed because of the
rain hitting them in the face. So this is something for the new council to
March 23, 1950:
Farm Home Burns: The farm
home of Mr. and Mrs. Herman SOLDNER in Meacham twp. caught fire Friday afternoon
and considerable damage was done before the blaze was brought under control by
the local fire department. Mr. and Mrs. SOLDNER were in Kinmundy at the time
the fire was discovered by a sister-in-law, Mrs. Raymond SOLDNER living on the
adjoining farm. It was not long after the alarm was spread until there were
several there with the fire engine. Luckily, the well held out until the fire
was extinguished. From all appearance, the fire was caused by a defective
flue. The whole upstairs as well as the contents were destroyed. The contents
of the downstairs were carried out but practically every room in the house was
ruined with smoke and water damage. Mr. and Mrs. SOLDNER are now at home in one
room of the house which they hurriedly fitted up.
Dec. 7, 1950:
The fire department was
called to the Edwin YUND home on Friday of last week when, due to a defective
kitchen flue, a fire broke out and did extensive damage to the roof. Due to the
fast action of the fire department, the fire was held to the roof.
Jan. 11, 1951:
Kinmundy Citizens Deprived
of a lot of Excitement as well as Financial Loss: A lot of excitement as well as
what might have terminated in the loss of Kinmundy’s whole business district,
was nipped in the bud Tuesday afternoon when a floor fire was discovered in the
second floor of the Masonic Temple building. As it was, the damage was confined
to an estimated $600 loss. The furnace for the Masonic Temple sets on the
second floor of the building. The Masons converted this furnace from coal to
oil. The installation had been made and a test was being made Tuesday
afternoon, heating the lodge room for the Eastern Star Chapter scheduled to meet
that night. The writer made frequent trips to the Temple to check on the
performance of the furnace as well as gather statistical data in the rise in
temperature of the hall. On his visit to the furnace room at 3:30, he noticed
some smoke but just supposed it was some of the “new” burning off the oil
burner. He also noticed that the thermostat was not working like it should. At
that he summoned Carl DUNLAP. Together they returned to the furnace room. This
time, we decided to make a thorough investigation as to the source of the
smoke. We found it was coming from the floor. At this time, Jess GARRISON, who
has his hardware on the ground floor came up to investigate. As a board was
pulled in the floor, the smoke became stifling. The fire was in the floor under
the furnace. Water was thrown back under the furnace between the floor joist
which retarded it to a great extent. But we just couldn’t reach the source with
our water. At that, Mr. DUNLAP brought out the fire engine. While he was gone
after the engine, flames began to leap up from the hole in the floor. Eight or
ten dippers of water tamed them down to some extent, however, the water from the
fire engine soon killed the flames, but there was still some smoke coming. By
this time, E.E. BROWN and Gene WILLIAMS arrived on the scene. Then others came
which was a good thing because it was decided that the furnace would have to be
moved to make certain no fire remained. This was done with as great a care as
possible, and yet the furnace was damaged in the moving. So considerable damage
was done to the floor as well as the furnace, and, we might add, some electric
wiring in the floor which caused us to grit our teeth when the water hit it. It
was really a ‘lucky’ fire.
April 5, 1951:
Margaret GRAY Home Burned
Wednesday Morning: The fire department was called to the home of Mrs. Margaret
GRAY in the east part of town Wednesday morning when she discovered her home to
be on fire. She said that she had smelled smoke and kept looking for it. After
making a trip outside and glancing at her roof, she returned inside and just
happened to look in a closet in which the chimney is built. She found this
closet all ablaze. When the fire department arrived on the scene, the whole
attic was afire, as well as the interior of the rooms. The fire was soon
extinguished but not until the house was what would be termed a total loss.
None of the contents were carried from the house until after the flames were
extinguished. Consequently, only a few things were taken from the back part of
the home and they were damaged considerably.