Mount Hope Fire

The Fayette Journal
Special Edition
March 24, 1910

Mt. Hope Swept by Flames

Entire Town Devastated by the Most Disastrous Fire in History of County or Section.

Hundreds Homeless

No Casualties so far as Known - Loss Will Reach $350,000 Partly Covered by Insurance.

The greatest fire disaster that ever occurred in this county or section of the state reduced practically the entire town of Mount Hope to a heap of ashes Thursday morning. Of the rows of pretentious stores and dwellings that composed the business and principal residential portions of this thriving little place nothing remains but the stark, begrimed chimneys and smouldering ruins. In isolated places and along Sugar Creek, a few, a very few, houses remain unscathed, their total number not exceeding six. The general store of the Sugar Creek Coal Co., stands like a sentinel at the northwest corner of the devastated area, it having by some unaccountable reason escaped destruction. The loss is approximately $350,000 and the insurance about $150,000.

The fire started at about 7:30 in the morning in the room of the Lewis & Houcks saloon located in the midst of the most thickly settled portion of the main street, and within a short time the building was enveloped in flames. Despite all efforts, the fire quickly spread to adjacent structures and within an incredibly short space of time the entire east side of the street was a fiery furnace.

Residents on the west side of the street hurriedly removed what they could from their stores and houses; unfortunately a great deal of the property was piled up in the middle of the street. The piles of furniture bedding and other inflamable stuff were quickly ignited by the licking flames and through this medium the fire spread to the west side where it gained such headway that it was beyond human power to check its advance and it was soon realized that the entire town, if not that of Macdonald, adjoining, was doomed. The water supply from the tank upon the hill in the rear of Mt. Hope, was soon exhausted, and dynamite was resorted to but without any other effect than to endanger all property within a radius of a mile from the scene. The explosions scattered fire brands to the winds, and these fell all through Macdonald and vicinity, and the residents were forced to keep their windows closed and maintain a close watch on their roofs and outbuildings. One brand fell in the yard in front of the home of Dr. H. L. Kirkpatrick, in Macdonald, a full half mile from the fire center, and ignited the dry grass. The blaze was, however, quickly noted and extinguished. Many narrow escapes were had by venturous persons bent upon entering their places to rescue goods, but aside from number being slightly scorched no one was injured.

The residence of Mr. Ben Hurvitz, a member of the firm of Hurvitz & Lopinsky was among the first to catch fire, and Mr. Hurvitz's three little daughters, aged respectively two, six and eight years, who were in the house alone, were rescued in the nick of time by Robert Welsh and John Vires.

The people, driven from their homes, sought refuge upon the hill at the rear, from which point the scene below resembled a fiery furnace. Household effects were scattered along the roadway for miles in either direction, and it was a common thing to see pianos, beds, sewing machines and other more or less valuable effects standing in the roadway unattended. Thievery became prevalent when the fire was at its height and armed officers were kept busy protecting property. Frequently three or four persons would claim the same articles and in several instances fights were narrowly averted. A great number of arrests were made during the day.

More than three hundred persons were rendered homeless and they were cared for during the day at many homes in Macdonald. The New River Company officials were foremost in rendering aid to the stricken families and food and clothing was furnished in all emergencies. Plans were quickly made and put into effect for the care of the people at night, and application was made to the state department at Charleston for tents and other necessary supplies. These were forwarded to the scene on train No. 6 and immediately put in service on top of the hill. Capt. S. L. Walker, together with Lieut. Jones, and four men of Co. F of Fayetteville were detailed to the scene to care for the state's property. The prompt response of the department in furnishing shelter tents for the homeless was the source of much commendation, included in which was much praise for the work of the coal company officers for bringing such a thing about, and so promptly.

About 75 buildings were consumed among them being the Mount Hope Bank which transferred its books and money safely to the New River offices, where temporary quarters have been made, the M. E. Church and all of the stores and their stocks. But six dwellings, those of J. E. Garrett, W. H. Lindamood, Capt. Hansbarger, E. L. Rippeth and Ben Vickers were spared, and that of Floyd Reimy, which was directly in the fire zone miraculously escaped with but a damaged roof. The Union church and the skating rink were also unscathed.

The buildings and dwellings of the following were a total loss:

Patteson Hardware Store, located next to the saloon in which the fire originated, and wherein a quantity of gasoline exploded and added fuel to the flames; Fisher's Hotel, Bailey's Drug Store; White Star Saloon; M. H. Brockman's barber shop; Asbury's barber shop; the bowling alleys; Opera House; Steiner & Fisher Jewelry Store; Hurvitz & Lopinsky's great emporium; E. L. Rippeth's bakery; Bradley's Drug Store; Mrs. Perry's boarding house; Moseley's dry goods store; a restaurant, Hardman & Jones's Livery Stable; several saloons and many smaller establishment s of various nature. The handsome high school building was also destroyed. Among the families that were burned out of their homes are: Dr. E. E. Jones, M. P. Morris, Hen Pinson, Dr. T. E. McGuire, Wm. Turner, Percy Poole, the Wrights, Ben Sugar, Chris Lilly, Rev. Shoredan, J. Patteson, J. Kennedy, Chas. Jones, Johnn Perry, E. B. Lee, A. B. Bradley, Dr. W. L. Cottle, C. M. Brown, Wm. Reinas, L. C. Patteson, P. M. Snyder, and Dr. S. T. Bailey. W. R. Grey lost five dwellings and one store building in the flames.

The fire burned itself out by noon after covering an area of more than half a mile, extending to the railroad tracks of the White Oak railway.

The Fisher Hotel, was known until recently as the Bailey Hotel, and was purchased a short time ago by Sam Fisher, of Beckley, for $14,000. The insurance on the property will amount to but $7000, including contents.


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