Knoxville, TN Fire, Apr 1897
KNOXVILLE, Tenn., April 8.–Never in the history of Knoxville has the city suffered such a loss by fire as it did today. The very heart of the city, including some of the largest wholesale and retail business houses in the South, were destroyed. The loss is variously estimated at from one to one-and-a-half million with about 60 percent of insurance. The loss of life is uncertain as the registers of the Hotel Knox in which fifty-six people were sleeping was burned, the proprietor of the hotel says that he had five or six guests who have not put in an appearance. A.E. WEEKS, of Locke, N.Y., drummer for a Rochester stamping company, is known to have perished in the flames. R.W. HOPKINS, a St. Louis drummer, was last seen in the burning building in a suffocating condition. W.H. KEPHART, ex-secretary of the chamber of commerce, saved the life of JOHN BOGLE, an old farmer, by dragging him to the roof of another building. KEPHART jumped one story and was injured.
When the firemen thought all the inmates of the hotel had escaped, a woman with an infant in her arms rushed to the rear window and screamed for help. A net was quickly stretched and the woman asked to drop the child out, but as the smoke almost choked her she told them if one had to die, both would die. The woman was finally rescued by the firemen. From the hotel building, which was five stories high, the fire spread east and west. A stiff wind made the flames very ugly and the department was inadequate.
DYNAMITE AND CANNON
In the wholesale hardware house of W.W. Woodruff & Co., explosions of dynamite occurred and scores of people were hurt by flying bricks and glass. It became necessary at last to have the walls of one building blown down by cannon to stop the mad career of the flames. A mountain howitzer of the Knoxville legion, was called into play and a load of canister did the work, at the same time tearing up some residences in a different portion of the city.
The city authorities realizing that the fire department was unable to conquer the flames, telegraphed to Chattanooga for assistance. The Southern railway made up a special train and carried the Chattanooga apparatus to Knoxville, 111 miles, 115 minutes. One stop was made for water, the actual running time being 60 miles an hour. When the engine arrived here the fire was under control, yet the Chattanooga boys did some work.
It is more than probable that J.C.M. BOGLE, the old gentleman hurt in the hotel will die. He inhaled flames.
The last man to leave the burning hotel says that he is positive that five or six persons were burned. He ran over three or four men in the hallways who were suffocated.
J.M. DEAN of Kansas City, who jumped from the burning building tells a thrilling story of his escape. He started out with only his nightshirt and had that torn off before he reached the street. His room mate, W.A. KABOR, was more fortunate, saving two shirts. The Travelers Protective Association members of the local post took care of all drummers, buying some suits out and out.
W.H. MITCHELL, of Abingdon, jumped from the burning building to the bank building. W.I. JOHNSON, a railroad baggage master, came down from the fifth story hand over hand on the water pipes before the engines arrived. Only one of of the guests saved any of his effects. The list of dead and injured so far as reported is as follows. The dead:
A.E. WEEKS, Locke, N.Y.
R.W. HOPKINS, St. Louis, MO.
ROBINSON, Pulaski, Tenn.
S.E. WILLIAMS, Springfield, Mass.
J.C.M. BOGLE, of Tennessee, burned and will die.
D.M. DEAS, Indianapolis, Ind., ankle sprained
THOMAS S. PECK, Morristown, Tenn, ankle sprained.
Lieut. HOOD, Knoxville, cut on face and head by glass.
CLAUDE HARRIS, Knoxville, cut in a dozen places.
Policeman ASQUITH, burned and cut by flying glass.
Policeman DUNCAN, badly burned and was carried home.
Fire Chief McINTOSH, bruised from fall.
W.H. KEPHART, Knoxville, internally hurt
A cabinet maker named P.C. DRYER fell dead on the street from fright. A man named ROBINSON from Pulaski, Tenn., is supposed to be another victim. He was registered in the hotel and has not shown up.
The County Record, April 15, 1897, page 3.