When the Gong Rings
A Fire History of Charleston, Illinois
120.  FIRE LOG 1963

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'38 Boyer pumps from deluge gun. Runs for hours "never missing a beat"; memories of the 1952 Alexander Department Store fire creep in. This would be truck #3's last great fire. Eugene Hackett would drive it to its last call later in the 1960's.




(Decatur Herald, December 20, 1963, front page, Charleston, Special)

       Ice-covered firemen brought a fire under control 4 1/2 hours after it raged through four buildings, destroying 13 businesses and offices, a Masonic Hall and four apartments in this Coles County community (yesterday, Dec. 19). There were no injuries. Fire chief George Milliner said a conservative estimate of the loss "would reach $200,000. firemen worked throughout the day in near zero temperatures. No cases of frostbite were reported.

       The fire started at 9 A.M. apparently in the rear of the Neer Paint and Wallpaper Store on the S.W. corner of the square. Cans and drums of paint and other flammable materials exploded, augmenting the intense heat that prevented firemen from entering the burning paint store. Only brick "walls and smoldering ruins remained after the fire swept through a one-quarter section of the downtown block. Firemen remained at the scene all night pouring water onto the embers.

The cause of the fire has not been determined, but Arthur Neer, owner of the paint store, said an employee had called his attention to a fire in the floor near the rear of his store. Flames, he said, quickly spread to "wallpaper, engulfing the room.  Owner, Arthur Neer, said faulty electrical wiring may have been the cause. Fire Chief Milliner said paint, turpentine and varnish caused the fire to spread quickly.


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