When the Gong Rings
A Fire History of Charleston, Illinois


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***Index to other 1950's Pages:  70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, 100, 101, 103 



A two-story house at 1103 Buchanan Street was severely damaged about 3 P.M., August 28, 1958. An explosion from the basement ripped through the structure. The occupants, Mrs. H.F. Jackson and her daughter Ann, were not at home when the explosion occurred. The force of the blast caused the east side of the house to bulge and blew windows and doors into the yard. The interior was a shambles. Fire chief Neal Hutton said today the exact cause of the explosion was not known, but he said it is apparent it began in the basement. Workmen had been spraying the basement for waterproofing moments before the blast. The owner, Mrs. J.E. Hougland and the occupant, as well as the sprayers were outside when the house exploded. Woodwork in the house was scorched indicating some fire. The floors were buckled and the east wall was blasted nearly a foot from the house. A neighbor's home owned by Mrs. Roy Phillips was hit by glass and bits of wood. Firemen were called by a neighbor, who ran through the house to make sure no one was in it.


The east wall of the Jacksons' home at 1103 Buchanan Street bulges out as a result of an explosion which ripped through the structure about 3 P.M., Monday. The Cape Cod style home was severely damaged throughout, but no one was injured




5th and Monroe would be scene of another bad fire. This time it was at the S.W. corner in the large building used as a farm implement sales and service business. The fire was reported by Chief Neal Hutton as "heavy" in damage. No estimate of damage was given, but the fire raged through the interior of the implement shop.


April 30, 1959 would be the last day for Chief Hutton, as chief. Fire Commissioner Jene Thomas announced the retirement, and that Hutton would revert to a fireman. The commissioner would not elaborate on the resignation. Fireman George Milliner was appointed as acting chief. He would be confirmed later. Hutton was chief for four years, taking the place of John Turner.



Sunday, December 27, 1959, would see another victim of fire in Charleston. Mrs. Patsy Michael, 30, died Sunday morning in her burning house at 100 Ninth Street. Coles County Coroner Viola M. Clark said death apparently was caused from carbon monoxide poisoning from smoke inhalation. The body was found by firemen when they were called by neighbors about 9:20 A.M. Mrs. Michael's body was found by Chief George Milliner on the living room floor near a couch which had been destroyed by fire.  Chief Milliner and Don McCumber, chief deputy fire marshal from Tuscola, said the evidence pointed to a cigarette as the cause of the fire. A section of the living room floor had been burned completely through. Most of the fire damage was confined to the one room.