BLENNERHASSETT HOTEL FIRE PARKERSBURG WV
THE ROUNDHOUSE FIRE PARKERSBURG WV
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Three firemen and one resident were treated for injuries and smoke inhalation in a fire which threatened to destroy the historic Blennerhassett Hotel, Fourth and Market Streets, at 4:41 p.m. , Wednesday, May 9,1979.
Firemen and hotel personnel were able to get all 30 of the residents, many of them elderly. from the burning structure which firemen said was heavily damaged. All three of the injured firemen were treated and released at Camden-Clark and St. Joseph's Hospital emergency rooms and the resident, Richard Lantz, was admitted to Camden Clark where he was listed in stable condition suffering smoke inhalation.
Fire Chief John Owens said the fire apparently broke out in a linen and storage area on the second floor of the 90 year old hotel and spread upward between the walls to reach the third and fourth floors. He said firemen were able to stop the fire between the fourth and fifth floors of the five story building. The chief said while actual fire damage was not extreme, smoke, water and structural damage due to fire fighting operations was heavy.
There was no estimate of damages Wednesday, and Owens said the cause of the fire had not been determined. Larry McDaniel, manager of the Blennerhassett, said temporary quarters have been secured for all of the residents who were evacuated from the hotel. He said hotel personnel will maintain security surveillance until all personal property of residents and guests has been removed.
Many of the residents, especially the elderly, said they didn't know there was a fire in the building until they heard sirens and saw fire trucks pulling up in front of the hotel. Several were assisted down fire escapes by firemen and other residents, while others in different sections or on different floors exited via elevator or the inside stairs.
W. E. Holloway, 81, a resident of Room 403 for the past five years said he smelled smoke in the hall shortly before firemen arrived to help him down a back fire escape leading into the alley below. Ike Bills, 69, a resident of Room 318 on the third floor for the past six months, said he looked out the window and saw fire trucks, then took the elevator down and left the building.
Mrs. Murle Kapp, Room 201 said some of the girl employees came to her door and said there was a fire, and took her down on the elevator. I dido't even have time to grab my pocket book or put my shoes on and Im out here bare foot, she said. Frances Inslee, 73, who has occupied Room 416 for three years, said she took time to find her checkbook, savings bag, her will, and insurance policies before she was escorted down the fire escape by Chris Freeze, 23, a friend of her family, who was visiting at the time. She said her cat "Stripe" was at the vets at the time. Freeze also helped blind Murray O'Connor, 68, down the fire escape into the alley.
Betty Meadows, Manager of Franklin Thrift and Loan at 310 Fourth St. on the ground floor said all records were removed except some in a fire-proof file cabinet There was smoke and water damage there, as well as to the Bread-Line, 320 Market St. and Atty. Robert Keltner's office at 316 Market. Keltner owns the building. Firemen treated and released were Sgt. Ed Hupp, muscle damage to his right arm; and firemen Doug Williamson, 40, and Harry Carney, 32, both suffering smoke inhalation.
Engines 1, 2, 3, and 6, and two ladder units from Parkersburg, and two pumpers and a rescue unit from Vienna were on the scene for more than three hours before the fire was extinguished. Several of the residents were housed in the near by Union Mission facility. It was not immediately determined how soon residents would be able to move back into the hotel. The hotel was built in 1889 by the late William Nelson Chancellor.
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