St Johnsbury, VT Fire, Nov 1909

Ruins of the Bank Block


St. Johnsbury, Vt., Suffers Great Loss of Life.

Four-Story Block Burned so Rapidly That Firemen Were Helpless to Save Imprisoned Victims.

St. Johnsbury, Vt. -- Nine lives were lost in the fire which destroyed the principal business building of this town. Two other persons were fatally burned, and two were taken to a hospital suffering from severe but not dangerous burns. The property loss is estimated at $50,000, partly covered by insurance. Of the nine persons killed, two fell from the upper stories of the building in an attempt to reach safety by means of ropes, while seven were burned to death, their bodies not being recovered until several hours later.
The list of dead follows:
S. D. CUSHMAN and MRS. S. D. CUSHMAN and their child;
L. E. DARLING, forty years old, a laborer;
CHARLES TANNER, a painter;

MRS. JEANNETTE DAVIS and LOUIS POPE, thirteen years old, son of MR. And MRS. WILLIAM POPE, were those fatally burned. The others injured are WILLIAM POPE and ROY SMITH, who will recover.

The block, a four-story brick building, was a combination of stores, offices, tenements and assembly halls. It was owned by the Citizens' Savings Bank. The fire is believed to have originated in a restaurant in the basement.

Though the alarm was given on the instant and the firemen came in with all speed, the inside of the four-story building was a furnace before help arrived, an elevator well having furnished a flue through which the flames swept to all of the floors.

When it was seen that the ladders would not reach, ropes, which were evidently in the building for such an emergency, were brought into use. Women apparently feared the attempt at descent and RANLETT attempted to come down, hand over hand, to reach he top of the ladder. He lost his balance and fell to the sidewalk. His skull was fractured and he died instantly. DARLING, the other man, lost his grip and fell in attempting to grasp the swinging rope from a windowsill. He lived only a few minutes.

The Cranbury Press New Jersey 1909-11-05