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Burning of H.B. Sykes and Company

Description: On the morning of March 15, 1904, fire broke out in the H.B. Sykes & Co. dry goods store. The first alarm sounded at 7:30. Within 10 minutes of the alarms, the crowd was such that police were called to keep them a safe distance. Fifteen store clerks were inside when the fire began, and all were safely evacuated. Bryon Sassaman, clerk, was trapped on the second floor when smoke filled the stairway but escaped through a window with a ladder provided by spectators. At one point, there were six lines streaming water into the building. The firemen persisted until 2:45 that afternoon to bring the fire under control. Heat and smoke built up inside the building, bursting the ground floor windows and showering half a dozen firefighters with glass and debris. Only two, Charles Shupert and Al Harris, were injured by the flying glass. Frank Newman was overcome by smoke inhalation, collapsing at the top of the ladder where he was fighting the fire on the third floor. When he lost consciousness and dropped the hose, Will Harper caught it as it slide down the ladder and continued to fight the blaze from his lower position on that same ladder. Will Elliot's hand was caught in the hose reel which crushed a finger and badly lacerated his hand. John Whedon received a gash above his eye when he fell from one roof to an adjoining building. Finally, Charles Middleton was struck in the ear and hurled fifteen feet which left him stunned for several minutes. In spite of their injuries, all of these firefighters recovered. There was an estimated $100,000 loss of goods with another $10,000 loss in structure, but not a single loss of life.
Collection: Elkhart Public Library
Copyright: No Copyright - United States;
Subjects: Elkhart County (Ind.)
Dry goods stores
Stores & shops

Further information on this record can be found at its source.