|Transcribed by Norma Knotts Shaffer from microfilm of The Calhoun
Chronicle dated 1/20/1966 with photos courtesy of
FIRE TAKES GRANTSVILLE BUSINESS BLOCK
Businesses And Homes Are Lost
For many years it has been one of the customary predictions around
town of Grantsville that the Odd Fellows building on Main street would
go up in flames, and that it would take a good many other buildings
These predictions came true Monday night in a disastrous fire which
completely destroyed six business places, ruined a seventh, and left
Aftermath Viewed From Mill Street Looking Toward Main Street
Super-Service Building Visible On Right
Bystanders Survey Damage
Viewed From Main Street With Court Street On Left
Rainbow Hotel On Right
Remains of J & B Drugstore
Viewed From Main Street
Rainbow Hotel and Oren Atkinson Home In Background
Viewed from Mill Street Looking Toward Main Street
Courthouse and Masonic Building Visible on Right
Completely gone are these buildings: Gunn's Department Store, Odd
building, including residences of Pete Riddle and Mr. and Mrs. C.H.
and the Hardman restaurant operated by Mrs. Bessie Arthur, Ward's Pool
room, Garland's Grocery, J and B Drug store, Air Rifle Headquarters,
by Bob Law, along with the Law family living quarters, all located in
P.P. Gunn building on Mill street, separate dwelling houses occupied
Mrs. C.S. Gladwell, Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Sturm, and Mr. and Mrs. Willis
Haught, and another house vacated only two weeks ago by Mr. and Mrs.
Stevens. The Quality Shop building was also severely damaged,
the stock in that store was damaged by smoke and water.
Across Main street, the Calhoun Super-Service building was on fire
least three different times, and only the heroic and persistent
of a group on top of that building continually spraying it with water,
saved it from destruction, and further spreading of the fire to other
The Rainbow Hotel was continually threatened, but determined
by many firemen saved that building. The Masonic building and
Stump Dry Cleaners building were also threatened and had to be sprayed
The fire siren sounded in Grantsville about 8:30 p.m., when flames
discovered in the restaurant in the lower floor of the Odd Fellows
The three-story frame building and the adjoining frame building
by Ward's pool room, soon were an angry mass of flames. It
long before the Gunn building was on fire on one side of the Odd
building and flames traveled along Main street, taking in the building
owned by Foster Poling and occupied by Garland Stump's grocery
Soon it was in the J and B drug store building starting with the roof,
which soon caved in.
Meanwhile the fire ha spread to the four frame dwellings back of
buildings, and to the rear Gunn building where Bob Law had his gun
and his home. Some of the Mill street residents had time to take
out at least some of their furniture, the Ernest Sturm family living
the last in the row getting out most of their possessions. Their
house was owned by Stanley D'Orazio.
The fire was fought in sub-freezing temperatures with low
With the power off the water pressure lessened and no more water could
be pumped to refill storage tanks and keep up the pressure.
was pumped from the Little Kanawha river to supplement the supply
through the water mains. Water storage tanks for the town were
about empty before the night was over and could not be refilled until
The call for help was answered by many volunteers. The
fire department was soon on the scene, and seeing the prospects of a
disaster, called upon many other fire departments for help.
the help, both of men and equipment of the many neighboring fire
it was felt that the fire would have spread over a greater part of the
Fire departments from neighboring towns responding with help
Pennsboro, Harrisville, Smithville, Elizabeth, Spencer, Glenville,
Weston, Burnsville, and possibly others. Assistance was also
by several persons and firms with oil and gas field equipment,
South Penn Oil company, Dowell company, William Harvey, and
All the visiting firemen and other volunteers, worked together in
manner, and brought the blaze under control in less than four hours.
Some of the men stood in precarious positions on roofs and atop
for hours at a time, hosing down the flames to contain them in the one
block area. One group stood for a very long time atop the old
house on Main street, hosing down the Quality Shop building, the place
where the fire was finally stopped.
Through the whole disaster, there was no loss of life or injury by
The low temperature caused the water to freeze on the streets, and
were several falls by spectators, and one person, Roy Kerby, received
broken shoulder in a fall. The firemen worked on and on, too
to think about their wet clothing which was soon frozen. Many
on the _________ night, leaving only when a cleanup crew arrived in
Many of the fire victims praised the efforts of a group of
who spent all their energies helping to move out possessions in the
Monongahela Power company sent out a crew of men to restore
service as quickly as possible. Service in most of the area was
in about five hours, with only one section in the Main street area
power until noon Tuesday. Workmen had to erect new poles and
many lines in the area, keeping on the job all through Tuesday.
Telephone communications were out for a short time, about two
but workmen for the West Virginia Telephone company had service
Estimates of the total damage range from half a million to one
dollars. Most of the business places had just completed
and have in this an accurate listing of their lost stock. Nearly
all were able to save their business records.
Cleanup crews were on hand early Tuesday morning, while firemen
continuing to douse the remains, flames breaking forth at
By afternoon a bulldozer could be used to work over some of the
the ruins still smoking all the while.
It was the biggest fire ever in Grantsville, a major disaster for
town, yet through it all, the people remained calm, many worked to the
point of exhaustion, and all seemed glad that though this was a
loss, there was not one casualty.