1942 Sparta Fire


Fire Levels 7 Buildings


Man Rescued


Brick Bank Building in Path of Flames Halts Their Spread


One man was rescued from his burning bed, and seven buildings, all but one in the main business block of Sparta, Gallatin county, were destroyed by a stubborn blaze that caused damage estimated at $50,000 early Wednesday morning, [July 15].

Sparta is approximately 45 miles southwest of Covington.

Gilbert Walters, 34-year-old liquor store operator, owed his life Wednesday to Harry Clark, 37, who manages a local pool room for him.

Mr. Walters, who is deaf, was sleeping in his room on the second floor of an old hotel building, which houses his store, unaware of the fire.

Breaking a first-floor window, Mr. Clark walked through ten or more smoke-filled rooms to his employer’s room.

Bed Ignited

Flames had creeped into Mr. Walter’s room and ignited his bed, Mr. Clark awakened him and led the way downstairs and outside to safety.

Leslie Minor, telegraph operator in the Louisville and Nashville. R. R. Co. Station discovered the blaze and spread the alarm. The Warsaw and Carrollton fie departments were summoned.

The blaze started in a three-story brick building housing a hardware store operated by Josephine Wilson, and the local Masonic Lodge. Observers believe that persons congregating in a rear entranceway of the building, leading to the lodge hall, apparently dropped lighted matches, cigarettes, or cigars, giving origin to the blaze.

Blaze Spreads

Mr. Wilson’s store was located at one end of the block. The blaze spread to the other end, its damage being halted by the one-story brick Sparta-Sanders State Bank Building, according to Harry Records, cashier if that institution.

Establishments in the block destroyed by the flames were a general store operated by Mrs. J. B. Samuel, the Walters liquor store, the Sparta post office, which was in the same building as the Samuel store; the filling station of plant operated by F. P. Jacobs, station agent, the Batchie restaurant, operated by Mrs. Beatrice Wilson, next to the bank building, and to the Sparta Skating Rink.

A truck owned by the Wilson hardware store and parked in rear of that building was destroyed.

The fire spread some 40 to 60 feet away, and burned the railroad station to the ground.

Sparks Blamed

Sparks from the fire are believed to have dropped on the station, inasmuch as there was not a strong breeze to fan the flames. All of the destroyed buildings, except the hardware tore, were of frame construction. The bank, although having but one story, is a high brick building and its height is credited with having prevented the spread of flames.

Local residents, forming bucket brigades immediately after being routed from their beds, aided firemen in fighting the blaze and protecting other sections of this Gallatin county town of approximately 600 population.

Police Chief John closer of Warsaw notified fireman of his city of the blaze after being called shortly after its discovery. The home of State Sen. Alvin Kidwell, which is in Sparta, was not damaged by the flames.

Slight damage was suffered by the bank building, but the structure was not ignited.

Wells Pumped Dry

All wells and cisterns in the vicinity of the blaze were pumped dry n an effort to halt spread of the flames. The hose used was too short to reach Eagle creek and water was pumped from a smaller creek nearby.

Mr. Walters, who was rescued from the flames, remembered his parrot when leaving his room and returned to rescue the bird. He suffered no ill effects in the rescue.

Mr. Roberts related today that he is scheduled to go to Louisville Saturday to be honored by the insurance firm he represents. Part of the celebration was to be over the fact that Sparta had not had a fire in 25 years.


From the Kentucky Post of July 15, 1942