Kansas City, MO Gas Explosion, Dec 1909

BLACK MAN A HERO.

SAVES MANY LIVES IN FIRE IN KANSAS CITY.

ESCAPES FROM RIALTO BUILDING WITH LAST OF THE OCCUPANTS JUST AS A SECOND GAS EXPLOSION OCCURS -- DAMAGE TO STRUCTURE $300,000.

Kansas City, Missouri -- Heroic rescue work on the part of WASHINGTON JOHNSON, a negro janitor, saved the lives of a score of persons in the Rialto building, a five-story office structure at Ninth street and Grand avenue, Kansas City, Mo., which was destroyed early Thursday by a fire caused by a gas explosion. The loss is estimated at $300,000.
JOHNSON discovered the fire and realizing that a number of physicians and medical students were sleeping on the upper floors, he rushed through the halls shouting an alarm. When he believed everyone had escaped he made his way to the street. There he learned that CHARLES R. MANLEY, a medical student, who slept on the fifth floor was still missing. Without a moment's hesitation JOHNSON rushed up the stairs to the top of the building. As he started through the hall on the fifth floor he met MANLEY, dazed and half choked, groping about. Taking the stifled man by the arm the negro guided him through the smoke and flames and the pair reached the street just as a second explosion shook the building.
The second explosion occurred just as twenty firemen entered the building. Six of the firemen were thrown a distance of several feet by the force of the explosion, but none suffered more than minor injuries.

The Sioux County Herald Orange City Iowa 1909-12-29