Brinkley, AR Tornado & Fire - Score Killed by Tornado


Business Section of Brinkley, Ark. Demolished by Storm and Fire.

Physicians, Nurses and Fire Fighting Apparatus Rushed to Stricken District.

Memphis, Tenn. -- Thirty people were killed in a disastrous tornado which swept Brinkley, Ark., a town of 4000 inhabitants. The bodies of four white persons were recovered, two more are said to be in the ruins of the town, and the number of dead negroes is variously estimated at between twenty and fifty. Fire added to the horror caused by the wind, and the entire town was destroyed. The property loss, according to conservative business men of the town, will reach above $1,000,000.
The known dead are: PORTER FOOTE; J. L. STARRETT; HENRY STOVEALL, JR.; MRS. PHILLIPS; MRS. BELLE GARDEN; CHARLES FRENZE; MR. AND MRS. HOOD; MISS CLARA ROSE. A daughter of T. W. BUNCH, one of the wealthiest citizens of the town, was reported dead.

With the first relief trains from Helena, Forrest City and neighboring towns went all the available fire fighting apparatus, but the destruction of the waterworks at Brinkley practically rendered them useless and the conflagration burned itself out.

Among the buildings destroyed were the stations of the Rock Island, Arkansas, Midland and Cotton Belt Railroads. In the latter building the telegraph operator, T. N. KINNELL, and a lineman named RICHARDS were caught by the falling timbers, but were not hurt to any extent. When they had crawled out from the ruins they walked to Wheatley, a town about two miles from Brinkley, and sent out the first word of the disaster.

KINNELL'S message told that all the railroad tracks passing through Brinkley were blocked by the fallen walls of the stations and by small outhouses and trees which were blown across the rails by the storm.

With the fire rapidly licking under the piles of debris, there was every indication that Brinkley, would be nothing more than a smoking pile of ashes.

Forrest City, twenty miles east of Brinkley, was the first town to send aid. A special train was made up there, and loaded with all the doctors in town, 100 nurses and helpers and the fire companies with hose and several engines, started for Brinkley.

Nearly the entire State of Arkansas suffered to some degree from the high wind. Fences and trees were blown down, but the heart of the storm seemed to concentrate on Brinkley and expended all its fury there.

The tornado crossed the Arkansas River at Fourche Dam and raised a spout of water about 200 feet high. It passed toward the northeast and swept a path about sixty yards wide. The tornado was followed by a violent hail and rainstorm, which lasted throughout the night. The same storm passed into Barcum and from there to Kerr, in Lonoke County, where several hourse were demolished.

The Cranbury Press New Jersey 1909-03-12