Oroville, CA Union Hotel Fire, May 1944
3 PERSONS DIE IN OROVILLE HOTEL BLAZE.
Oroville, May 12. -- (AP) -- Three persons were known to be dead and seven were unaccounted for late today after a fire destroyed the 50 year old Union Hotel Building.
A total of 115 of the 125 occupants were known to have escaped from the building after the blaze broke out about 3 A.M.
MISS LUELLA KNOTT, a former Rutte County auditor, died a few hours after the blaze. Another victim was tentatively identified as S. L. HARRIGAN, Stockton, a Western Pacific Railroad switchman and a third was believed to be H. C. BROWN, Oroville, a former taxi driver.
Coroner's deputies said no other victims had been brought out of the building although firemen had reported another body was seen.
The identification of HARRIGAN and BROWN was tentative. Nine other persons still wer unaccounted for at noon as the wreckage of the hotel still smoldered.
Sheriff BERT FORWARD, who acts as county coroner, said that the list of missing was being cut down rapidly but declared he believed that other bodies would be found in the burned building as the wreckage cooled and firemen were able to complete a search.
One of the persons not accounted for was MORSE AJINA, a soldier stationed at Camp Beale. Others were L. L. SMITH, Los Angeles, and THOMAS A. WENTZEL, Quincy.
MRS. KNOTT, 50, escaped from the burning building but died of burns a few hours later.
At least six persons were burned or suffered other injuries including AMOS HUCKABAY, 57; J. E. ADAMS, 44, and WILLIAM R. HUDSON, 49, all of Stockton, Western Pacific Railroad crewmen, and DOYES N. BROWN, Vallajo, Mare Island Navy Yard labor recruiter.
The exact cause of the fire was not known. It broke out near the rear of the brick building and shortly after a barrel of fuel oil near the building exploded, spreading the flames.
Hotel employes said 53 of the rooms were occupied. The building was not equipped with outside fire escapes.
Firemen said the fire spread rapidly through a wooden duct cooling system and quickly gutted the interior of the hotel.
Nearly all of the occupants who escaped did so by jumping from windows of the three story building.
AMOS HUCKABY, Stockton, railroad brakeman, jumped from a third story window but escaped serious injury when his fall was broken by a pile of boxes.
The entire interior of the building was gutted and one wall collapsed. The loss was estimated at $125,000.
This afternoon firemen still were pouring streams of water into the embers so that a search for bodies of victims could start.
MISS KNOTT, who once was convicted of embezzling county funds but who won a reversal from an appellate court, had returned to the hotel last night from a fishing trip.
The Modesto Bee And News-Herald California 1944-05-12