Huntington, WV Wholesale Grocery Fire Kills Fireman, Mar 1901


Sehon, Blake & Stevenson's Wholesale Grocery House Destroyed by Fire Early This Morning, Entailing a Loss of Upwards of Eighty Thousand Dollars


Flames Originated on the Third Floor, and Although the Firemen Fought Bravely the Building is a Total Loss--Will Rebuild

The wholesale grocery house of Sehon, Blake and Stevenson, corner of Tenth street and Second avenue, is a mass of ruins. It was destroyed by fire this morning, the loss being total.

During the progress of the blaze John Wright, a fireman, was killed by a falling wall.

Shortly before two-thirty o'clock this morning, night miller Fulton of Gwinn Bros, flouring mill, discovered flames leaping from the windows on the upper floor of Sehon, Blake, and Stevenson's wholesale grocery, directly across the street from the mill. The flames when discovered had already gained considerable headway, the entire upper floor seemingly, being a mass of flames. Mr. Fulton lost no time in turning in an alarm from box No. 46, corner of Tenth and Second and in a very short time Central station had responded.

Chief Molter at once realized that the fire was going to be a bad one and endeavored to turn in a second alarm to bring out the Canda Hose Company of the East End, but the wires seemed out of shape and the alarm box failed to respond. A telephone message was immediately sent to Canda station and in probably twenty minutes time this company responded also.

Huge streams of water from four lines of hose were soon plying on the burning structure, but it seemed to have no effect whatsoever.

The inflamable [sic] nature of the stock of goods, especially on the second and third floors made it impossible to check the fire. In less than an hour after the fire broke out, the walls of the big building began falling in, and it made the work of the firemen quiet hazardous.

At six-thirty o'clock this morning, fireman John Wright, one of the oldest men in the service, was endeavoring to break in the grate across a window leading to the basement, when a mass of brick tumbled from the top of the wall, and the unfortunate man's head was crushed to a jelly. Other parts of his body was also badly bruised. His body was soon extricated and was taken to Holewade and Son's undertaking establishment. The point where Mr. Wright met death was on the south side of the building not far from the middle of the structure. The firemen continued the greater part of today.

John Wright was one of the pioneer members of the fire department
John Wright, the unfortunate man killed by a falling wall at the Sehon, Blake, and Stevenson fire this morning was forty-five years of age and had been a member of the Huntington Fire Department for more than a dozen years. He was one of the bravest in the department and knew no such thing as fear. Probably had he been more cautious he would yet be living.

Mr. Wright was well known about town. He was a member of Cabell Council, No. 126 O.U.A.M which lodge will have charge of the funeral tomorrow at two o'clock from the Central Christian Church. He leaves a wife and five children to mourn his demise.

Fell from a Window into the Basement of the Burning Structure
During the progress of the fire this morning, Will Sturgeon of the Central Hose Company, fell from a window near the ground floor into the basement. The flames were leaping fiercely near the point, and all who witnessed the happening thought the man would certainly lose his life. Several policemen and a few members of the department went to his rescue, and it was with great difficulty he was extricated. Fortunately, he was uninjured save a few bruises about his body.

Jack Bingham is nursing a badly sprained hand, the result of assisting in recovering Will Sturgeon, who fell into the basement of the Sehon, Blake, & Stevenson building during the fire.

Source: Front page articles from the Herald Advertiser, Huntington, WV. Wednesday Evening, 27, March 1901