Gary, IN Tavern Apartment Fire, Sep 1968
FIVE KILLED, 13 MISSING IN TAVERN, APARTMENT FIRE.
Gary, Ind. (UPI) -- An early morning fire which may have been the work of an arsonist raced through a tavern and into apartments above it, Saturday trapping victims in their beds.
Seven charred bodies were recovered and 13 other persons were llisted as missing and believed dead.
The blaze may have been triggered by an explosion in the basement under the In-Crowd Lounge, on the first floor of the three-story brick building, near the downtown law office of Mayor RICHARD G. HATCHER.
Firemen sorted through tons of rubble brick by brick, Saturday afternoon searching the blackened debris for more victims.
None of the bodies had been identified.
The missing were identified by authorities as:
WILLIE DAVIS, 67.
ERNESTINE DAVIS, 56.
RANCE DRAYTON, 43.
CHERYL SAMUELS, 18.
CAROLYN JOHNSON, 16.
KENNETH JOHNSON, 12.
BRUCE JOHNSON, 11.
DEBORAH JOHNSON, 10.
ERNESTINE WREN, 9.
DOROTHEA WREN, 7.
JOHN NICHOLSON, 5.
LINDA DOUGLAS, 5.
JAMES BAILEY, 1.
Cause of the fire was not officially determined. However, witnesses told of hearing and seeing an explosion just before fire enveloped the building. They said a barstool from the lounge was hurled 120 feet into the street by a blast that erupted a few minutes before 4 a.m.
EUGENE ARMSTRONG, who owns a liquor store near the scene of the fire, said he talked to an eye-witness who stopped in a car at a traffic signal a moment after the fire erupted. The motorist said there was an explosion, ARMSTRONG said.
AUthorities investigated the possibility of arson, including a possibility a firebomb was hurled into the tavern.
The Press Courier Long Beach California 1968-09-01