Friday, June 19, 2009

Sherman Hotel Burns

On June 19, 1960 at 9:20 p.m. an alarm of fire was turned in for the Sherman Hotel at the intersections of King and Earl Streets. Firemen arrived to find smoke and fire on the first floor and smoke billowing from the upper floors. Thick acrid smoke filled the interior hampering efforts of firemen to reach the seat of the blaze.

The fire started in the first floor kitchen bar area and spread upwards into a second floor kitchen. Both the kitchen and bar were gutted with heavy smoke, water and heat damage to the first and second floors and part of the third floor. Adjacent businesses Galen Gates and Son Men’s Shop, Pete’s Barbour Shop, LeRidge Beauty Salon, Gordon’s Women’s Store and Frank Ferarris plumbing company also suffered various degrees of smoke and water damage.

Fearing the blaze may spread beyond the Shippensburg Fire Department’s needs and the need for additional SCBA’s assistance was requested from neighboring communities. Firemen operated three hose lines and two booster lines on the fire. In all over 100 firemen from seven companies manning 15 rigs battled the blaze before gaining control around 10:30 p.m.

Borough Fire Chief Thomas Murray and Vigilant fireman Clarence Bigler both suffered smoke inhalation and were treated at the scene by the community ambulance along with several other firemen for minor cuts and burns.

James Regan, Pa. state police fire marshal, concluded ruled the fire accidental. He was unable to determine the exact cause of the blaze but stated that the fire started in the area in the rear of the bar. Damages were estimated at $50,000 and the building was torn down four years later.

The Vigilant Hose, Cumberland Valley Hose, West End Fire and Rescue, Newburg-Hopewell, Franklin’s, Letterkenny and Carlisle (the article does not state which company, just that a rescue vehicle responded) battled the blaze.

The photograph shows the West Enders operating in the alley to the rear of the building with their engine and rescue.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Brad!

Bradley Myers said...

No problem TJ, you got lucky it just happened to fall right after your request. I do have other photos I just did not have time to scan and upload them, maybe next year I will post the photos with a different fire on this date.

I don't expect it, but it would be great to hear from someone that was at the fire. To read the articles I have from four different papers I don't get the impression that the fire was that large compared to today's standards. It seemed to me to be more the lack of using SCBA and the potential because of building and occupancy.

I also wondered about the cause, doing the papers in order the establishment was having problems causing me to want to investigate a little further. I would like to think the owner would not torch a partially occupied building, but we know it happens.

Sparky said...

great post Brad. I always wondered about the old Sherman Hotel fire. I was also wondering do you have a list of all the boro fire chiefs and the dates they service?

Bradley Myers said...

Sorry Sparky I forgot to reply to your question. I probably have all the names and information spread out over a 150 or so books I just have not taken the time yet to put it all into a database. Another reason to retire, I need more time for research and typing. Some day.

Anonymous said...

Box 2-2-2. I remember my Dad counting the raps from the Gamewell horn, we were in Gillis's store just east of the square.


Harold Cohick said...

If my memory serves me right, WEFR was sent to the rear of the building in the alley next to club close to the rear of Valley Baking company. Several members at WEFR fire questioned why we were assigned to that area since fire was mainly in front/Earl St. side of building. Of course our members wanted to catch some hose time on the front lines. We did suit up and walk over to that area and entered bar on Earl street to help with ventilation. Yes Brad, there was indeed a shortage of SCBA in those days....