||When the Gong Rings
|A Fire History of Charleston,
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Wilb Walkers and Ben Franklin 5 &
10 Store, Charleston, Burns
(left) Volunteer fireman, Prather, helping
connect the hose line to the pumper of the ladder
truck at the Walker's Fire
(right) Volunteer Luther Dennis also helps assist
firemen on the ladder
MORE ABOUT THE FIRE AT WALKERS
Business was slack the night of the fire. Dean La Frentz, night
supervisor noticed a wisp of flame from his store front office
position, above the produce counter in the center of the building.
The two co-workers, Mike Mossbarger and John Bell had also seen it.
They converged on the spot with a fire extinguisher. They noticed
the fire was from up above. When opening the store room door, the
flames were great, and they scurried to the front of the building.
La Frentz called on the intercom and asked all people to leave the
store. He then called the fire department from the Ben Franklin
store, because the Walker's phone line was already burned apart..
Employees picked up a few coats and La Frentz
grabbed some loose money in the office. No money was taken from the
cash registers. Within an hour the building (both stores) was
gutted. Joe Ethridge arrived from Mattoon within a half-hour of the
start of the fire. He witnessed the destruction. He made a
statement:: "I'll just stay and look at my bonfire," he said. And
then his spirits rose. "I do want to express my appreciation to the
fire department for its hard work and to the police department for