Hamilton, OH Butler County Courthouse Fire, Mar 1912 - Falling Tower Kills Firemen


Disastrous Fire Occurs in the Butler County Courthouse at Hamilton, Ohio.

HAMILTON, Ohio, March 14.---JOHN HUNTER, a fireman was killed and William L. LOVE was fatally crushed today when the high tower of the Butler county courthouse in which they were fighting fire, toppled inwards, burying them. Both were pronounced dead when brought out, but Love was found to still be alive. Although the fire was kept in the two upper floors, the courthouse was so badly damaged that it was said tonight that it would be impossible to rebuild it. The loss is estimated at $150,000.

A gang of men has been at work removing the tons of debris that fell in the fear that some of the spectators who crowded the lower floor when the fire started, might have been buried. All of the firemen have been accounted for.

Among those most seriously injured were: George FRITZ, fireman, may recover; Roy OGG, arteries in arm cut by window glass; Fire Chief William DOTY, arm broken; Deputy County Clerk, John G. HATH, hand burned.

The fire started from crossed electric wires. The iron clock tower above which was a huge bronze bell and a heavy bronze statue of justice, swayed above the flames a few minutes and then crumbled inward down through the floors below and piling up a great mass of debris at the bottom.

The county records, stored in the vaults of the clerks on the first floor, were carried out by the spectators and employes[sic] and it is believed all were saved. The courthouse was built in 1889 at a cost of $304,000. It was insured for $40,000.

The Duluth News Tribune, Duluth, MN 16 Mar 1912