San Francisco, CA Lodging House Fire, June 1936
S. F. FIRE KILLS 7, 19 HURT; POLICE QUIZ WPA WORKER.
EARLY HERO OF LODGING HOUSE BLAZE IS QUESTIONED ON NIGHT CLUB TRAGEDY.
ADVENTIST LEADER IS VICTIM OF HOLOCAUST.
CITY LAUNCHES CAMPAIGN TO CONDEMN BUILDINGS NOT CONSIDERED SAFE.
(By International News Service)
San Francisco, June 8. -- Charred ruins of a ramshackle lodging house in which six men and a woman met death in San Francisco's second fatal fire in the last month were finely combed today by the police and fire officials for possible clues which might corroborate their suspicion that the blaze was the work of a firebug.
At the Hall of Justice, RAYMOND SEARLES, 35, Works Progress Administration employe and a lodger in the boarding house, is being grilled.
SEARLES told the police he was one of the first to turn in an alarm early yesterday morning when fire gutted the lodging house, a four-story frame building in the south of market district at Eleventh and Nakoma Streets.
Held As Suspect.
In a drunken condition, SEARLES, at first hailed as a hero, found himself jailed as a suspect for investigation in connection with the holocaust.
The police declared he is a fire "enthusiast," having made his appearance at many fires which have occurred in recent months.
The detectives were grilling SEARLES to determine whether he was present at the tragic Club Shamrock fire which claimed four lives last month.
The death toll in yesterday's fire included REV. F. C. CLARK, 56, of Cheyenne, Wyo. REV. CLARK was burned to death as he clung to the top of a fire ladder while firemen fought him to save his life.
Fights Off Rescuers.
REV. CLARK, a prominent leader in the Seventh Day Adventist Church, was attending the Adventist convention here with his wife, LENA, who was one of the nineteen injured in the blaze.
After saving his wife's life by handing her to firemen, REV. CLARK< crazed by terrible burns about the body, fought off firemen as they attempted to rescue him from a top floor of the blazing building.
REV. CLARK and his wife were on their honeymoon here. They were married last December.
He was a general field secretary for the church in Wyoming and Nebraska. VICTOR E. CLARK, a son by a former marriage, is a naval aviation attache at Honolulu.
List Other Dead.
In addition to REV. CLARK, the following victims were killed:
MRS. CLARA ROLAND, 60, seamstress, died of internal injuries after leaping from a third-story window.
JOSE CARMONA, 31, laborer.
FRED SELLER, 30, itinerant rug cleaner.
Three other men, still unidentified. The unidentified are believed to be S. DOUGLAS, WILLIAM A. WELDER and GEORGE WELCH, who are reported missing. Their bodies were burned beyond recognition.
The fire started in the narrow stairway entrance of the lodging house and spread to every floor while the occupants were sleeping.
Flames Block Exit.
With the main exit cut off by a wall of flame, shrieking men and women raced to one fire escape. MRS. ROLAND leaped from a third story window to the pavement when she could endure the torture of the flames no longer.
Most of the rescued leaped to safety into fire nets.
The blaze spread with such rapidity that the fire officials and the police are almost convinced that it was incendiary.
SEARLES, according to the police records, had previously been arrested on charges of drunkenness, battery and other misdemeanors.
Two policemen, CLYDE BERKHEIMER and JAMES MAHER, who arrived at the scene in their radio patrol car a few minutes after the alarm was turned in, gave a word picture of the horror of the blaze.
"Never have I seen such a sight in all my life," said BERKHEIMER. "Flames were shooting out of every window."
"Men and women were leaning out of every window and all were screaming. It was terrifying."
Officer MAHER said:
"It was terrible. I never want to see another tragedy like it."
Cleanup Is Demanded.
Every fire trap in the city must be condemned.
As a city wide probe of old buildings was launched today by the fire officials, the health department officials, the police and building inspectors, this phrase echoed through San Francisco following two disastrous fires here in the last month.
"A survey of all firetraps and slum buildings, is now under way," declared Chief BRENNAN and DR. J. C. GEIGER, city health inspector.
The Fresno Bee Republican California 1936-06-08