When the Gong Rings

A Fire History of Charleston, Illinois



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Sunday night, March 8, 1964, was a bad night for the Mrs.Thiel Post residence, 61 Mitchell; Street. The roof was burned from the home after it apparently was struck by lightning during the night. Rafters were charred. CIPS and Illinois Consolidated had bad nights of fallen lines. Rain and lightning was very
heavy. Fire Chief George Milliner said lightning apparently was the cause of the Post fire at 11:30 P.M. When firemen arrived the entire roof and attic were ablaze. The fire appeared to have been burning for some time.
Mrs. Post was in Chicago Sunday. Earlier, firemen were called to the home of Walter Rice, 1021 Van Buren Street, to investigate gas fumes, which were found to be sewer gas,
according to Milliner. And at 6:55 P.M. firemen answered an alarm to the home of Jack Ward, 110 W. Madison Street, where
lightning had hit the electrical wiring, burning out a furnace motor and causing a small fire on carpeting.          


During the same heavy rain storm Fireman Ed Ferguson was involved in an accident with one of the trucks and an auto at Sixth and Madison. The truck, driven by Ed Ferguson, went through the red traffic light. The car, driven by James E. Wiechert, St. Joseph was traveling south on Sixth Street when the crash occurred, according to police. As it turned out, the call the firemen answered was for a down telephone line at the Pals' Standard Station, 5th and Madison. Both Wiechert and a passenger were treated by a local physician and released. Wiechert was issued a ticket by police charging him with failure to yield the right-of-way to an emergency vehicle. Wiechert's vehicle received heavy damage, and the truck was


damaged, but was available for service later in the day. City firemen were busy that Sunday with calls to Taylor's IGAon Rte. 130 (sparks were being blown from a trash burner, causing some alarm); and later to Sam Bunch's DX, 8th and Madison to wash spilled gas off the driveway.


April, 1964, Captain Mel Taylor was the featured speaker at the annual Bosses Night Dinner of the Newton Volunteer Fire Department. Besides relating operations of the CFD and some of the fire-fighting problems encountered, Taylor also showed films of the December 19 fire which burned out the S.W. corner of the Charleston square.


Retired Fire Chief, Neal Hutton died May 8, 1964 m the Charleston Hospital, where he had been a patient for one day. Mr. Hutton was retired from the fire department because of an on-the-job physical disability in February of 1960. He was appointed to the department July 3, 1942. In 1948, he was named assistant chief. In March of 1955 Mr. Hutton was named chief of the department, succeeding John Turner. The last big fire Mr. Hutton helped fight came at the Alexander Department while he was assistant chief. Mr. Hutton was born August 6, 1904.


May 12, 1964, started a series of tests for the Civil Defense warning system. Max Cougill, city civil defense director and Lewis Levy, county director conducted the tests. the warning siren had three sounds: warning, take cover and all clear. People of Charleston learned the meaning of each sound. The siren was used on occasion during tornado warnings. The siren was located behind the firehouse at 10th and Madison.


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