Damaged By Fire Which Burns Grocery


Dry Ridge Fire Fighters Prevent Spread of Flames After Local Fire Department’s Engine Breaks Down and Worst Conflagration in Town’s History is Averted


 Fire which originated in the grocery of Joe A. Harrison, at the corner of Main and Court streets, entirely destroyed the grocery and wooden building in which it was located, and damaged the county record office, generally called The Clerk’s Office, to the extent of several thousand dollars, Monday night.  Spillman & Lowe’s barber shop was also located in the grocery building and was a complete loss with the exception of a few razors and other small articles which they were able to rescue.

 The brick buildings of G. V. Theobald, J. B. Miller, and S. R. Webb, which are located directly across Main Street, were also slightly damaged, and the Odd Fellows Building, a three story brick, in which is located Ernest Chapman’s buggy house, The Cincinnati Bargain Store, and the postoffice, was directly in the fire zone and suffered considerable damage to the windows on the second floor.

 The walls of the County Record office are still intact and apparently are not greatly damaged, but the roof and the woodwork in the offices of the County Clerk and the Circuit Court clerk are almost a total loss.  The vaults containing the records of the county and of the courts for several generations back are apparently not damaged and the records are intact. 

The second story of the Harrison grocery was occupied as a residence by Mrs. A. Carter, and Dr. W. J. Zinn also had his dental offices on that floor.  The fire had gained such headway before it was discovered that neither were able to save any of their possessions, and Mrs. Carter was rescued by being carried out of the window and assisted to the ground along an electric light pole which stood at the corner of the building. She was in bed asleep and had to be awakened and the stairway was a roaring furnace before aid reached her.

 The fire was first seen by Mrs. F. A. Harrison from a window on the south side of her home over Wigginton’s Store.  Her husband, Judge F. A. Harrison, was in his office at the court house engaged in taking depositions when she looked out of the window to see if a light was still burning in the court house.  She saw smoke pouring out of the second floor of the grocery building and at once called the local exchange. The call of fire was immediately responded to and a number of citizens were quickly on the ground.  It was too late, however, to make any headway against the flames and the efforts of the fire department were devoted to preventing them from spreading.

 Dry Ridge Fire Department was called and responded promptly, but they had no sooner arrived when the local fire engine broke down and only the Dry Ridge engine was left with which to work. By this time the fire had caught in the cornices under the roof of the clerk’s office.  The valiant work of the firefighters kept the flames from spreading to the Oddfellows building as well as from spreading across the Main street.

 The fire was first seen at ten o’clock and it was two hours before it was under control, and even then the heat was so intense that one could scarcely stand in Main street in front of the burning buildings.

Dry Ridge Saved the Town

 Had it not been for the timely arrival of the Dry Ridge fire department there is little doubt a large part of the business section of the town would have been destroyed. The Clerk’s office would have burned and the court house would have followed.  It is hardly probable that the Oddfellows building could have been saved, and then it would have been “Good Night” to everything on the west side of Main street from Paris street to Mill, and it is doubtful if the fire could have been confined to the west side as a strong wind had sprung up and was blowing directly across the street.  It is conceded on all sides that with the local fire engine broken down and no other to depend upon, a large part of the business section would have been consumed, and the Dry Ridge boys with their engine saved the town from a calamity from which she would not have recovered in years.

Losses Generally Covered

 The losses of the property owners will not be heavy, as most of them carried a fair amount of insurance.

 The County Record Office carried $5,000 and this sum will probably repair it.

 Oscar Frakes carried $1,500 on the grocery building which was a two-story wooden structure of no great value.

 Joe Harrison carried $4,000 which is believed to represent a reasonable valuation in his stock of goods.

 The minor losses to other buildings are fully covered by insurance.

 Mrs. Carter carried no insurance and lost all of her household goods, saving nothing but the night clothes in which she was dressed when she retired.  Neither Dr. Zinn nor the barbershop carried insurance and both suffered neatly a total loss.

An Act of Heroism

 The act of Kirtley Barnes in rescuing from the flames is characterized on all sides as an act of heroism which has no parallel here.  Mrs. Carter was asleep in her apartment over a grocery and the lower part of the building was a solid mass of flames. The stairway built on the outside of the building was burning rapidly.  Mr. Barnes ran up the burning stairway, broke into Mrs. Carter’s room, wrapped her on the bed clothing while smoke nearly stifled him and flames licked his clothing. By this time the stairway was burning so fiercely it was impossible to descend, and Barnes carried Mrs. Carter to the front window, kicked it out, and stepped on to the roof in front of the building, while with gentle hands Mrs. Carter was passed to the ground and received by other men. She suffered no injuries, but was under the care of physicians for several hours due to the shock she received.  The floor was burning rapidly when Mr. Barnes was rescued Mrs. Carter and fell in only a few moments later.


from the Grant County News, February 10, 1922