Greenville, TX Hotel Explosion and Fire, Dec 1957


Greenville, Tex. (AP) - A shattering explosion thudded through the three-story Beckham Hotel last night and was followed by raging, stubborn fire. One body was found in the ruins.
The body of JOSHUA B. CARTER, of Celeste, Tex., a guest at the hotel, was found in the wreckage on the third floor.
Three persons were hospitalized and others were treated for cuts, bruises and shock. Fifteen elderly men lived at the hotel, which also was popular with traveling men. All the elderly were among those accounted for.
Many guests were forced shivering and half-dressed into the 26-degree cold. Several were routed from their beds and fled down fire escapes and ladders.
The explosion blew out all the windows in the hotel and shattered glass in neighboring buildings. Water from fire hoses froze a coating of ice over streets and sidewalks.
"Everything was just quiet and all of sudden there was this big explosion-boom," said Desk Clerk LUTHER OWENS. "It kind of knocked me goofy," he said.
OWENS said he could see little flame at first, "although some fire licked up the west entrance of the hotel. It was so smoky I couldn't see who got out."
Earl Benson, manager of the Greenville office of Lone Star Gas Company, said the gas was cut off for two blocks in all directions from the hotel at the time of the explosion while 20 men worked on a gas leak.
The explosion, described by most as a "dull thud," was heard at least seven miles from this north Texas city of 20,000.
Ralph Marcom, radio station KGVL newsman here, said one man was blown out of a second-story window into the street. CHARLEY HALL, a Greenville painter sleeping in a rooming house annex adjoining the hotel was knocked from his bed and bruised.

Santa Cruz Sentinel California 1957-12-12