DISASTROUS 1919 FIRE STRIKES GRANTSVILLE 105 YEARS AGO - Dynamite Used For Fire Break, Second Disastrous 1966 Fire


The first disastrous fire in the history of Grantsville occurred on June 14, 1919, wiping out a a block of the main business area. Forty-seven years later in 1966 a major fire wiped out an adjacent block.

Locals used dynamite to clear breaks in the roaring fire, the town not having a water system or hydrants at the time.

Burned was the Masonic Hall, in which was also located the Calhoun County Bank, the post office, Dr. J. A. Morford's office, in addition to the Peoples Bank building, including the apartments occupied by Mr. and Mrs. W. E. Price and those used for Lee Ice and family.

Also the offices of Dr. J. B. Law, Justice H. and Attorney J. T. Waldo, the building occupied by the Deems and Price's confectionery, a box building under construction by George W. Hamilton, the Hardman building, the first floor of which being occupied by a store.

Burned was the second floor apartments of Ira Hardman and family and Fred Hardman and family, and the residence occupied by W. R. Stalnaker and family, and on Court Street the residences of Bernard Marshall and S. J. Turner.

The entire block burned to the ground within about two hours, in the short time, five business buildings and three residences were razed and eight families were without homes.

Boyd Hosey, then the owner of the Rainbow Hotel, climbed to the roof of his building to extinguish hot sparks from the fire, and while there, someone took his ladder, and he had to be rescued.

The origin of the fire was never declared, but it was likely that a bolt of lightening struck the Peoples Bank building, perhaps igniting a gas leak.

The Calhoun Chronicle reported, "Mr. Ice came down from his room after one very hard crash and inquired of Cashier B. G. Stump if there had been a gas explosion in the building. Mr. Stump said there was very loud report in the banking room.

As the flames spread through the buildings, residents rushed to remove the contents, removing the furniture from the post office and the Peoples Bank, the buildings then under immediate destruction.

Reports said that by the time the flames had reached the Masonic Hall, a valiant and successful fight was made to confine the fire to the block in which it had caught and to save the block extending north from G. S. Smith's store.

The most serious danger this block was in was while Bernard Marshall's house was burning when the west corner of the building containing the barber shop and E. Chenoweth's office caught on fire.

The blaze was extinguished by men who remained on the roof when the flames went higher than their heads.

There was no effort made to stop the fire in the main block, a wipe-out except for the dynamite squad who first attempted to blow the end off the R. W. Bennett building, which would have saved the Home Hotel and everything below it.

Further dynamite attempts were made in the same manner but there was not enough time to plant the charges where they would have been most effective.

The Calhoun County Bank succeeded in removing practically everything, including the counter and wicket work. The Masons in the same building, saved nothing but the Master's Chair, records and aprons. There was $1500 insurance on the building.

"Everything was removed from the post office except a typewriter desk and a chair, there was nothing of any great value remaining in the office. Dr. J. A. Morford, whose office was on the second floor, lost everything except a part of his library," a report said.

"Everything was taken out of the Peoples Bank except the counter and one chair. The front door, with its large plate glass was saved, but the large window was destroyed. Of course an effort was made to move the safes, as was the same with the Calhoun County Bank. Nothing was saved from the second floor of the Peoples Bank building. A heavy loss was sustained by Justice Waldo, who is also town collector, as some very important records were lost."

Deems & Price had $2500 insurance on their stock of goods, but sustained a very heavy loss to two fountains.

"It would take the most up-to-date fire engines in the world to do better work than was done in some cases by the cool-headed and efficient," reported the Chronicle.

No one was seriously injured by the fire, but two small dogs, one belonging to Johnson Bennett and the other to Lee Ice, were burned to death.

The town was unable to place an estimate on the total damage.