When the Gong Rings
A Fire History of Charleston, Illinois
114.  FIRE LOG 1962

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Mel Taylor (right) & Bud Hildebrand (left) extinguish a car fire early, '62



       Early in the day of Dec. 2, 1962, a large apartment at 4th Street, near Lincoln was the scene of a near deadly disaster. Quick response by one of the students "would save several young college men who resided at the apartment house. 8 would be hospitalized, 19 others were treated. The two-story frame residence was being heated by two natural gas units and was owned by Mrs. Ray Isbell, who resides in the rear of the house.

      The building had been inspected on the previous October 19, and some 18 violations were found. Dr. William D. Miner, director of housing at the university stated that the building was cleared to house 40 students, and that 32 were residing there. One of the students, who lived on the ground floor of the structure, told deputy fire marshal, Byron Emrich, that he was not particularly affected by the gas. First word of any difficulty occurred about 6:30 A.M. when one of the residents on the upper floor awakened and found that he was ill. He called a fellow student, who also was ill, and then the other residents began arousing.

       The residents went to the Isbell home for a time and then went by auto to Charleston Community Hospital for treatment, according to the student. The hospital was already full, so hospital staff set up folding cots in halls and wherever possible to make room. CFD firemen would go to the hospital to help care for the sick. The more severe cases "were taken immediately to surgery recovery units for oxygen treatment. The ambulance drivers and firemen helped the others. City policemen re-laid oxygen tanks as needed. George Milliner, Chief and Emrich determined that the cause of the asphyxiation was a stopped up chimney flue or faulty furnace. The chief decided to re-inspect several other homes for similar problems. Hernando's Hideaway was found worst for violations.


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