Interesting Things

By Ray L. Bellande

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Fire Department and Major Biloxi fires

BILOXI FIRE DEPARTMENT

TIME LINE

Felix Charles Borries (1860-1937)

[Courtesy of Janice Hughey Hogan-September 2013]

1883

City of Biloxi organized its first fire company [Biloxi Volunteer Fire Company No. 1] on September 3rd at the Montross Hotel.  F.W. Elmer, pres.; Will C. Grant, v. pres.; P.J. Montross, treas.; Phil McCabe, foreman; Thomas P. Bachino, 1st assist.; and Frank Greveniing, 2nd assist.  Others involved: Leon Bertoli; Joe Tucei; John B. Bachino; N. Petrie; Albert Deck; Thomas McCabe; Daniel Bachino; J.M. Ritch; M.J. Grady; George H. Schrieber and N. Sullivan.(The Daily Picayune, September 6, 1883, p. 1)

 

 

 

1890

The Mississippi Hook & Ladder Fire Company No. 1 was chartered on February 21, 1890 by the following: August Barthes, E. Beaucoudray, Joseph Bellande, Peter Bellande, N. Bellande, E.B. Chambers, J. Clark, M. Clark, William Collins, Thomas Collins, P. Dalton, A.B. DeLamarre, Percy L. Elmer, A. Giron, W.P. Henley, Lee Kelty, J.C. Laage, J.B. Lemon, Phil Lestrade, William Master, Dan McCarthy, Y. Petrie, R. Price, Alex Redon Jr., T. Rachford, Phil Wagner.(The Biloxi Herald, April 12, 1890, p. 2)

 

The Biloxi fire companies [Biloxi Volunteer Fire Company No. 1, Hook and Ladder Fire Company No. 1 and Mechanics Steam Fire Company No. 2] met in May and decided that September 19th would be the day of their annual parade since that was the day that the Biloxi Volunteer Fire Company was organized. The Biloxi Herald nominated Phil McCabe as Chief of the fire department.(The Biloxi Herald, May 24, 1890, p. 4)

 

1891

The engine room of the Barataria Canning Company burned in early September 1891.  Damage was estimated at $1000 and the plant was disabled for a few days.(The Biloxi Herald, September 12, 1891, p. 4)

 

1892

On March 18th, a fire of incendiary origin destroyed the sash, door and blind factory of M.L. Vazquez north of the railorad.  Loss estimated at $2000 with $1000 insurance by Phoenix. A small house valued at $400 and owned by Collier also lost.(The Biloxi Herald, March 19, 1892, p. 4)

 

1894

On October 12th, Biloxi's Commercial District was inflicted  losses of about $75,000 when a large fire commenced in the two-story, J.W. Swetman Building on Pass Christian Street.  Big losers were: S. Picard-$25,000; J.W. Swetman-$8000; G.E. Ohr Sr.-$5000; W.K.M. Dukate-$4500; and the pottery of G.E. Ohr Jr. (1857-1918)-$3000.(The Biloxi Herald, October 13, 1894, p. 8)

 
 
1898

On August 18th, F.W. Elmer was elected Fire Chief of Biloxi by delegates from the various fire companies of the city. Felix Borries was elected 1st assistant and Gus Barthes, 2nd assistant. The annual Firemen's Day Parade, which had been neglected for a few years, was planned for September 19th with Isidore Heidenheim elected Grand Marshal of the parade.(The Biloxi Daily Herald, August 19, 1898, p. 8)

 

1900

On November 9th, the Great Biloxi Fire started in the rear of Kennedy's Saloon near the L&N Depot on Reynoir Street Hotel and devastated about ninety commercial and residential structures south to the beach. Damages estimated at about $600,000.(The Biloxi Daily Herald, November 9, 1900, p. 1)

 

1904

The City of Biloxi passed an ordinance in May that subsidized the two local fire companies to provide fire protection for Biloxi.  Volunteer Fire Company No. 1 received $250 per year while Hook and Ladder Company No. 1 was given $125 annually for thier support.  In addition, Biloxi was to furnish the following: ladders and buckets on hook and ladder trucks; three hose reels to be purchased with 250-feet of hose each and to be located outside markets; Mississippi Volunteer Company No. 1 firemen were to remunerated as follows: engineer-$5 per fire, fireman-$2.50 per fire, pipe men, not to exceed 2 per lead hose-$3.00 per fire, team that hauls an engine to fire to get $10.00 and team that hauls hook and ladder truck to be paid $5.00.(The Biloxi Daily Herald, may 4, 1904, p. 1)

 

The East End Hose Company No. 1 was organized on October 5, 1904 at Sterne’s Store 0n Point Cadet with 37 men present.  Officers of the Company were: Peter C. Ott, pres.; John S. Wentzel, vice-pres.; W.T. Sterne, sec.; W.G. Manuel, treas.; John Ott Sr., foreman; Alexander Ewing, 1st assistant foreman; Charles Wentzel, 2nd assistant foreman; and Joseph Arguelles, assistant aid to the fire chief.  Dues were set at 50 cents for three months.  By October 8th, the company was fully equipped with a hose carriage and ancillary equipment.  The fire company’s equipment was stored in the East End market house.   The Company’s first Mask Ball was held on December 22, 1904.(The Biloxi Daily Herald, October 6, 1904, p. 5; October 8, 1905, p. 5; December 22, 1904, p. 1; and September 19, 1907, p. 4)

 

The Back Bay Hose Company was organized on November 11, 1904 in a small shed owned by Nick Voivedich on Fayard Street.  There were 20 charter members with a hose drawn reel.  William Gorenflo and Edward C. Joullian were generous supporters of this organization in tis primal years.  The company named its two horses, Joullian and Reynoir.  Original officers of Back bay Hose Company were: J.B. Reynoir, president; William Thompson, v-pres.; Nick Voivecich, foreman; George Duvic, 1st assistant; and Arthur Richard, 2nd assistant.(The Daily Herald, September 20, 1915, p. 2) 

 

Philip McCabe (1837-1904), native of New Orleans and first chief engineer of the Biloxi Volunteer Fire Company, expired in mid-December.  In their youth, Ed Glennan and Charles Redding both worked for Mr. McCabe at NOLA when he had a stove business on Camp Street in NOLA.  McCabe also was the first tin can manufacturer on the Coast making fruit, oyster, and vegetable cans.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, October 28, 1881, p. 3 and The Biloxi Daily Herald, December 16, 1904, p. 5)

 

1905

Alderman T.J. Rosell, chairman of the water works committee, tested the water-fire pressure at Fayard Street and Howard Avenue with a 1 1/8 inch nozzle and it threw a stream of water 67 feet high or as high as the clock in the Nativity BVM Catholic Church.  The City has two water tanks.(The Biloxi daily Herald, September 27, 1905, p. 2)

 

1910

In late April 1910, a fire on east Division Street destroyed three, wood-framed cottages.  They were owned by Frank Cook-value $1000; Mrs. John Entrekin-value $1000 and insured for $500; Mrs. Martha Parker-value $400.(The Daily Herald, April 26, 1910,p. 4)

 

1913

The Noblin House, owned by Mrs. Ace Noblin of Edwards, Mississippi, situated on West Beach and used as a boarding house, caught fire in early August.  Mrs. L.D. Rodon and Mrs. W.P. Davis both escaped death by jumping from the upper story.  They were injured and treated by Dr. H.M. Folkes and Dr. W.G. Carroll who were both called to the conflagration.  It was occupied by Mrs. Rodon for the summer months.  The structure was formerly utilized as a santarium by Dr. W.R. Card.  The Volunteer Fire Company, The Hook and Ladder Company and the West End Fire Company fought the blaze.  E.L. Castanera, water works superintendent, related that this fire was the first to test the new electrical fire pump at the local pumping station.  The pump maintained a pressure of 125# throughout the battle to save the Noblin House.(The Daily Herald, August 7, 1913, p. 1 and August 8, 1913, p. 8)

 

1921

The City had the following fire protection beginning the year: Central Station-B. Mattina and Joseph Emile; Mississippi Hook & Ladder Company-Charles Sentell; West End Fire Company-Joseph Peppard; Back Bay Fire Company-Harvey Chinn; East End Fire Company-Fred Knox; and W.F. Clark, relief fireman.(The Daily Herald, January 15, 1921, p. 1)

 

1922

An $800, house inhabited by employees of the Biloxi Fisherman's Packing Company on Point Cadet was destroyed by fire on February 23rd.  The structure was located in an alley just back of Dave Ahern's grocery store.  Other cottages in the area caught fire, but were saved by firemen from the East End, Mississippi Hook and Ladder and the Volunteer Fire Companies of Biloxi.(The Daily Herald, February 23, 1922, p. 3)

 

On May 15th, a large fire destroyed one-half of the 3rd floor of the main building of the Riviera  Hotel [formerly Montross] on Beach Boulevard and Lameuse Street.  Damage estimated at $20,000.(The Daily Herald, May 15, 1922, p. 1)

 

After its gasoline engine back-fired, the Hilda S. , owned by Martin Fountain and sailed by George Smith, and moored at the Seafood Company pier on East Beach received slight damage.  The blaze was controlled with only slight damage as the crew used its pyrine extinguisher.(The Daily Herald, August 21, 1922, p. 3)

 

1924

On December 16th, a fire at Beauvoir destroyed Dormitory No. 3 which was situated west of the old hospital.  Two Confederate veterans perished in the conflagration, J.T. Hunter (1844-1924) and F.M. Sharp (1846-1924).  They entered the Soldier's Home fro, Laurel and Columbus respectively.[The Daily Herald, December 17, 1924, p. 1]

 

1925

Hook and Ladder Fire Company No. 1 celebrated its 35th anniversary on February 23rd at its station on Fayard Street.  Officers of the organization at this time were: Jake Lechner (1872-1930), president; Thomas E. Collins (1864-1937), v. pres.; Henry Eikel (1869-1952), secretary-treasurer; August Tremmel (1873-1942), foreman; Will Kornmann, 1st assist.; Anthony V. Ragusin (1902-1997), 2nd assist.; Charles Sentell, housekeeper; and Frank Bennett, flag bearer.(The Daily Herald, February 24, 1925, p. 1)

 

1926

On May 23rd, A large fire on West Howard Avenue destroyed the Yerger Building which housed the Variety Store, Electrik Maid Bakery, Newman Furniture Company, and Biloxi Mercantile Company.  Losses were estimated between $75,000-$100,000.(The Biloxi News, May 23, 1926, p. 1 and The Daily Herald, May 24, 1926, p. 1)

 

The bungalow of Mrs. K.C. Roswell 1130 West Beach between Gill Avenue amd Porter caught fire in the early morning of September 4th.  Three policemen, Evon Swetman (1902-1976), Richard Grady and Jake Stanovich, of the night patrol discovered the blaze and awoke the tenant, Mrs. Albert Madding. Units from West End No. 1, Central No. 1 and Hook & Ladder No. 1 arrived on the scene and quickly arrested the incipient conflagration limiting damage and the loss of the structure.  The five City firemen were aided by volunteers.(The Daily Herald, September 4, 1926, p. 1)

 

1928

The Elmer Packing Company on Back Bay was destroyed by fire on January 31st.  It was leased to Louis A. Lundy of Ocean Springs at the time of the large conflagration.(The Daily Herald, January 31, 1928, p. 2)   

 

1930

The Jennie Johnson, an auxiliary schooner, owned by Louis O. Johnson received fire damage amounting to $150 on April 20, 1930.  Captain Hub Terrell was burned on his arm and torso from the fire which emanated from the ignition of gasoline vapors in the vessel’s cabin when Terrell lit a match.  The Jennie Johnson had just returned from the outside oyster reefs with a hold laden with mollusks and was moored at the Johnson Canning Company wharf.  Biloxi firemen were called to the vessel and performed admirably saving the boat and its cargo.  The cabin was burned as well as some of the decking and the mainsail was badly damaged by the conflagration. (The Daily Herald, April 21 1930, p. 2)

 

1931

Sunkist, the Popp home, was destroyed by fire on 31 May.  The origin of the conflagration was unknown.(The Daily Herald, June 1, 1931, p. 2)

 

1933

The warehouse of Frank P. Corso on Caillavet Street near the L&N Railroad burned on October 11, 1933.  He suffered a heavy loss of about $6000 from fire and water damage.  Mr. Corso will move to the warehouse formerly occupied buy the Southern Grocery.(The Daily Herald, October 11, 1933, p. 1 and October 14, 1933, p. 2)

 

1934

In April 1934, a bulkhead and pumping stand were erected near the [Ramsay Springs Road] highway and 500 feet from Five Points in North Biloxi.  Chief Sentell, A.V. Ragusin and Walter Nixon visited the site.(The Daily Herald, April 27, 1934, p. 7)

 

1936

The W.F. McDonnell home, a wood-framed structure of eight rooms and situated on McDonnell Avenue just off West Beach at Biloxi, was destroyed by fire on April 23, 1936.  About $500 in musical instruments was lost and the house was valued at $7000.  Mrs. McDonnell was ill at the time of the conflagration and was taken to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Wiltz, her neighbor.(The Daily Herald, April 23, 1936, p. 3)

 

On December 4th, ground was broken for the new Back Bay Fire Station on Elder Street. The 116 foot by 200 foot lot was acquired from the Elder Estate.  John T. Collins was the architrect for the $5000 colonial-style structure.(The Daily Herald, December 4, 1936, p. 9)

 

1937

In February, several homes on Deer Island were spared damage from the recent fire.(The Daily Herald, February 4, 1937, p. 5)

 
 
On April 1st, work began on the new Central Fire Station near City Hall between Main and Elmer Streets.  The new station was designed by John T. Collins and is 47 feet by 70 feet with a dormitory for 7 men and a kitchen.  It is taking the place of the Fayard Street fire station and fire apparatus from Mississippi Hook & Ladder Company No. 1 will be utilized.  Christian A. Thompson was superintendent of the 20 man work force erecting the $10,000 structure.  The new station was dedicated on July 1, the birthday of Mayor Louis Braun who is also fire commissioner for the City.(The Daily Herald, April 20, 1937, p. 1 and July 1, 1937, p. 1)

 

The new West End Fire Station was dedicated on July 8th. John T. Collins was project architect and Robert Conway built the fire engine.  Mayor Louis Braun reminded the audience that 15 months prior while a candidate for Mayor, he promised that he would make improvements to Biloxi's Fire Department if elected.(The Daily Herald, July 9, 1937, p. 1)

 

The new Back Bay Fire Station was dedicated on July 20th during the annual Picnic and Bazaar of the Fourth Ward Regulars.  John T. Collins was architect and Robert Conway had built the company's fire engine which had an 85 HP motor and 850 feet of regular hose.  It was the 5th fire apparatus for the Back Bay Fire Company since its 1904 organization.(The Daily Herald, June 21, 1937, p. 1)

 

1940

Chief Sentell and his assistant, Evon Swetman, announced that the new 14 helmets for Biloxi's firemen arrived in October.   The bakelite helmets were black with the initials BFD and the fireman's number in white.  In addition to this equipment there were three gas masks on order for the department.  The purchaes were made through funds raised from a recent benefit dance.  It was aspired that an inhalator soon be acquired for the BFD.(The Daily Herald, October 1940)

 

1942

The S.H. Kress store on West Howard Avenue sustained $2000 in damages from a fire in mid-November. Three alarm event and O.W. Trawick was the store manager.(The Daily Herald, November 13, 1942, p. 2)

 

Earl F. Cook (1907-1999), now attached to the Central Fire Station, was appointed assistant Fire Chief in December 1942.  Earl joined the BFD on May 1, 1935.  He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Cook.(The December 23, 1942, p. 15)

 

1944

On October 27, 1944, a fire in the old Peoples' Bank Building on the corner of Howard Avenue and Lameuse Street caused an estimated $13,000 damage exclusive of fixtures and merchandise.  The Collins were hired to replace the roof and perform structural work.(The Daily Herald, October 28, 1944, p. 1 and October 31, 1944, p. 5.

 

1949

The Hick's Battery Manufacturing Company on Back Bay near Lee Street burned on April 6, 1949.  Damage was estimated at $50,000.  All five Biloxi Fire Department trucks and two fire engines from Keesler Field answeredthe fire call.  Fourteen firemen and several volunteers assisted in containing the conflagration.(The Daily Herald, April 7, 1949, p. 1)

 

1951

Charles Henry Sentell (1884-1951) former Biloxi Fire Chief [1933-1942] died on 25 January.[The Daily Herald, January 26, 1951, p. 12]

 

The laundry at the Buena Vista Hotel caught fire on the afternoon of March 14, 1951 resulting in $50,000 in damages to the structure which was situated behind the hotel.  The fire was fed by linens and cleaning fluid.  Unfortunately, Anthony 'Tony'  Bernard Rousseau (1908-1951), a Biloxi volunteer fireman, was killed while attempting to board the fire truck of the Central Fire Station.  He slipped, fell and was run over by the rear wheels of the vehicle.(The Daily Herald, March 14, 1951, p. 1)

 

1952

Bruce Carsen Howe (1951-1952) died on 12 March from burns received in a fire on Carter Avenue in West Biloxi.  The child was rolling a jar of gasoline on the floor which exploded when near a heater in the home.  He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Howe, whose father was Donald Witter Howe (1891-1952), founder of Seafoam Company, which manufactured food and pralines at their establishment on Carter Avenue.  Damage to the Howe home was estimated at $1500.[The Daily Herald, March 13, 1952, p. 1]

 

Biloxi ordered four, new fire trucks costing about $63,000 from the Four Wheel Drive Company of Clintonville, Wisconsin.  Two were high pressure pumpers 750-gallon pumper and two were standard-750 gallon pumpers.  The equipment was expected in the first week of September.  (The Daily Herald, June 7, 1952, p.3)

 

A new, $30,000 fire station for Biloxi's West End on Jeff Davis Avenue and the L&N RR was proposed from the $999,000 bond issue passed by Biloxi denizens in October.(The Daily Herald, December 24, 1952, p. 10)    

 

1953

Walter Clark (1900-1961) and Frank Hecht (1901-1981) were appoined Fire Chief and Assistant Fire Chief, respectively, of the Biloxi Fire Department by incoming Mayor Laz Quave (1910-1985) .(The Daily Herald, July 6, 1953, p. 17)

 

1954

Herman Creel (1908-1976) was named as assistant fire chief in February 1954.  William Knox retired.(The Daily Herald, March 2, 1954, p. 6)

 

1955

In April, the Grove Club on West Beach was destroyed by fire.  Owners, Louis Uchello (1909-1996) and Guy Uchello (1895-1962) valued the 1940 structure and a 1946 addition at $75,000.  They averred that $10,000 was left in the safe. (The Daily Herald, April 11, 1955, p. 1)

 

1956

The Folkes Building on the SE/C of West Howard and Reynoir had its second floor destroyed by fire in early November.  Damage to the structure was estiamted at $90,000.(The Daily Herald, November   , 1956, p, 1)

The Barthes-Sentell Fire Station No. 5, a $25,000 structure situated on Father Ryan Avenue, was dedicated on December 18th.  It was named in honor of Frederick Auguste Barthes (1864-1948) and Charles Henry Sentell (1884-1951), former Biloxi Fire Chiefs.(The Daily Herald, December 17, 1956, p. 21 and December 19, 1956, p. 1)    

 

1959

In 1959, fire damage at Biloxi was estimated at $270,489.  William Gilmer, age 60, was the only fire victim.  Gilmer was a former patient at the Biloxi VA Center and burned to death in his Pass Road trailer on February 20, 1959.  The fire at Ohr's Junk Yard which occurred on December 27, 1959 was estimated to result in about $100,000 in damages.  Antique automobiles were among the treasured items lost.  The A&P Super Market fire resulted in about $75,000 in damages.  Other notable conflagrations in 1959 were the $25,000 Blue Note Cafe fire on Main Street which occurred in March and a $20,000 fire in an apartment building on West Water Street in June.(The Daily Herald, January 1, 1960, p. 5)

 

On August 25th, the A&P Super Market on West Howard Avenue was severely harmed by fire with damage estimated at over $100,000. The building was erected in 1945 by Sam Mitchell and remodeled in 1950. All Biloxi fire units ledby Chief Walter Clark with assistance by the LeMoyne Volunteer Fire Company fought the blaze for 45 minutes.(The Daily Herald, August 26, 1959, p. 1 )

 

1960

On 21 May, Noel 'Little Jimmie' James Skrmetta Jr.  (1957-1960) burned to death in a fire at the home of his parents, Noel 'Jimmie' James Skrmetta and Bobbie Jean Maumus Skrmetta, at 5135 Southern Avenue in Biloxi.  Martin Skrmetta, an older brother, received mild burns from the gasoline fire.  The Skrmetta home damage was estimated at $2000 and was valued at $12,000.(The Daily Herald, May 21, 1960, p. 1)

 

Captain Patrick D. Quave (1935-1960), Biloxi fireman at the East End Fire Station, was killed on Dukate Curve in a traffic accident on December  26, 1960.  His spouse, Ramona Darrington Quave, was seriously injured.(The Daily Herald, December 27, 1960, p. 1.

 

1962

Bayview Lanes, formerly the Bayview Theatre building, was destroyed in a great conflagration on November 29th. Loss to structure and equipment was estimated at $450,000.  Douglas I. Smith (1901-1979) opened a theatre, flower shop and drug store here in 1946.  In 1959, the building was remodeled into a 20-lane bowling alley when owned by Ernest V. Landaiche (1895-1966).(The Daily Herald, November 30, 1962, p. 1)

 

1963

The Bernard T., a fishing vessel owned by Jane Taltavull Smith, sustained about $700 in damages when it caught fire at the Taltavull Company wharf on West Bay View Avenue.  Batallion Chief Frank Hecht said that a shortage in the boat's electrical system was responsible for the fire damage to the cabin of the vessel.(The Daily Herald, January 28, 1963, p. 2)

 

1964

The new $54,000 East End Fire Station was dedicated on September 12th completing the first phase of Mayor Guice's 4-point modernization program. The W.L. Easterling Company of Ocean Springs erected the 3984 square-ft. structure on the site of the old fire station.  The building was designed by H.F. Fountain Jr. & Associates.(The Daily Herald, September 3, 1964, p. 5, September 11, 1964, p. 9, and September 14, 1964, p. 1)

 

The old Crystal Ice Company building, situated between Lameuse Street and Delauney Street, burned for 32 hours in mid-December. Damages estimated at $182,000.(The Daily Herald, December 10, 1964, p. 1 and December 11, 1964, p. 2)

 

The Folkes Building, southeast corner of West Howard Avenue and Reynoir Street, burned in late December 1964.  Losses estimated at $230,000 to Kent's Men Store, Royal Credit Jewelers, Acme Photo,  et al.  Frank Gabrich was BFD Chief.(The Daily Herald, December 26, 1964, p. 1)

 

The Biloxi Fire Department fought two large fires in 1964.  The $55,000 East End Fire Station was completed and two, new, diesel fire trucks each costing $27,000 were acquired.(The Daily Herald, January 1, 1965, p. 1)

 

1965

A vacant, 2-story home valued at $30,000 and located on West Beach was destroyed by fire on January 2nd.  The structure just west of Oakmont Place was owned by Russell H. Huffstetter (1894-1969).The Daily Herald, January 2, 1965, p. 1)
 
 
 
The Roxy Theatre on East Howard Avenue, which had been closed for nearly eight years, burned on January 3, 1965.  A residence and trailer in the rear of the movie house were also destroyed resulting in total losses of about $26,000.  Mrs. Francis Smolich was the owner.(The Daily Herald, January 4, 1965, p. 1)

 

1966

The fifth floor of the Buena Vista Hotel's East Wing caught fire at 5:45 p.m.on July 20th.  125 rooms were burned resulting in damages estimated at $150,000.  All 360 rooms of the luxury hotel were in use as the Alabama Farm Bureau Federation was holding its annual meeting.  Local fireman extinguished the blaze in about three hours.  The Buena Vista reopened for business on July 21st.(The Times-Picayune, July 21, 1966, p. 1)

 

1968

The A & P  Super Market on West Beach Boulevard in Biloxi burned in an early morning fire on February 1st.  Damage was estimated at $100,000.(The Daily Herald, February   , 1968 and February 24, 1968, p. 1)
 
 
 
The 2nd February A & P Super Market conflagration in Biloxi occurred on February 23rd, when the A & P on West Howard Avenue burned in a flash fire.  Battalion Chief Frank Hecht noted that fire trucks had difficulties getting to the blaze due to heavy smoke which dimenished visibility.  Sam Mitchell owned the building that had been erected in 1948 [sic].  The structure had been heavily damaged by fire in 1958 [sic].  Merchiston-Hall Galleries, a furniture store east of the A & P store and owned by Leo Crapo, received about $2000 in damages when large windows and doors shattered due to the extreme heat emanating from the fire.(The Daily Herald, February 24, 1968, p. 1 and The Daily Herald, August 26, 1959, p. 1)

 

1969

Leo Nick (1895-1969) died from burns and smoke inhalation on January 14, 1969 in his small trailer at 127 East Bayview Avenue.  Nick was a veteran of World War I and was born at sea enroute from Poland.  He had no know survivors.  Gladys Gorenflo, Harrison County Coroner, related that Nick's demise was "caused by first and second degree burns received when the mattress caught fire in his trailer."(The Daily Herald, January 14, 1969, p. 2)
 
 
Three commercial business at 303A, 303B and 304 Porter Avenue sustained damages estimated at $60,000 from a conflagration that occurred on November 30th.  Business damaged were: John's Package Liquors owend by John Treuting; Arthur Murray Dance Studio-Mrs. Dorothy Shuttlemore, proprietor; and Verna's Beauty Shop-Mrs. Verna Taranto, owner.   The building was owned by John Demetrakopoulos. (The Daily Herald, December 1, 1969, p. 2)
 
 
Mary Juline Simmons, age about 33 years, died in a fire at 732 Magnolia Street on the afternoon of December 6th.(The Daily Herald, December 9, 1969, p. 2)
 

1971

The Vapors, a large night club on Biloxi's West Beach Strip east of the Broadwater Beach Hotel, was destroyed by fire on the morning of May 20th. 1971.  Richard Head owner of the structure estimated damages at $120,000.  It had been destroyed by Hurricane Camille in August 1969 and rebuilt.(The Daily Herald, May 20, 1971, p. 1)

 

1974

The Gorenflo publc school on Lameuse Street caught fire on April ?  The conflagration originated in the cafeteria and destroyed the cafeteria, library, auditorium, teachers' lounge, principal's office, and four class rooms in the main school building.  Damages were estimated at $1 million dollars.(The Daily Herald, October 9, 1975, p. C-1)

 

A.G. 'Cool Breeze' Hilton (1920-1974) died in a fire at 847 Elmer Street at Biloxi on December 17, 1974.  Three adults and two children escaped from the conflagration which destoyed the one and one-half story, wood frame house.(The Daily Herald, Decmber 18, 1974, p. A-2)

 

1976

Evon Emery Swetman (1902-1976), former assistant Biloxi Fire Chief, expired at Long Beach on March 15th.  He was the son of the late J.W. Swetman and Sofey P. Schumann. (The Daily Herald, March 16, 1976, p. A2)

 

In the late afternoon and evening of August 16th, Domicilliary No. 1, a three-story, 45-year old building, housing 142 elderly and disabled patients at the Veterans Administration Hospital at Biloxi, was heavily damaged by a large conflagration. More than 100 firemen from Biloxi, Gulfport, D'Iberville and Keesler AFB fought the blaze which appeared to have commenced in the attic of the dormitory and destroyed most of the building's third floor.  No lives were lost, but William B. Sheppard (1916-1976), director of the VA facility, died of a heart attack in his office around 6:00 p.m. during the height of the fire.(The Daily Herald, August 17, 1976, p. A-1)

 

1980

Joan Marie Manning Johnston (1960-1980), Gerald Guy Ross Jr. (1960-1980) and George W. Johnson (1957-1980) died in a duplex fire at 917 Central Beach Boulevard on January 19, 1980.  Damage to the structure was estimated at $15,000.  The corporal remains of the deceased were interred at the Biloxi Cemetery.(The Daily Herald, January 20, 1980)

 

1982

In the early morning of November 8th, 28 people died and more than 30 injured in a fire in the Harrison County jail on Delauney Street and McElroy Street in Biloxi.  Robert Eugene Pates (b. 1951) was charged with 28 counts of capital murder when he was named the alleged conspirator of the conflagration.  Pates was sent ot Parchman immediatley.(The Daily Herald, November 8, 1982, p. A1 and November 9, 1982, p. A2)

 

1981

A warehouse adjacent to Melvin Supply Company at 613 East Howard Avenue was damaged by fire on February 6th.  Damage was estmated in the $350,000 to $400,000 range, in early May.  The struture was owned by Ernest Melvin, Beat 1 Harrison County Supervisor and Biloxi Mayoral candidate.(The Daily Herald, February 6, 1981)

 

1983

The Shalimar Lounge at 806 Main Street was destroyed by fire on March 8th.  The building was valued at $150,000.(The Daily Herald, March 9, 1983, p. B-6)

 

1986

On October 20th, Carl Ohr Jr. (1952-1986) and Edwin Kurt Jacquet (1956-1986), BFD employees, were killed battling a fire in Biloxi.(The Times-Picayune, October 21, 1986, p. 1)

 

1991

On June 25th, the Buena Vista Hotel was severely damaged by fire and Steve Moore, Biloxi Fire Chief, estimated that the fire resulted resulted in damages of "hundreds of thousands of dollars and a total loss."(The Sun Herald, June 26, 1991, p. A-1)

 

2009

Retired Fire Chief Guy B. Roberts (1926-2009) expired at Biloxi on February 24th.  He was with the Biloxi Fire Department for 32 years and retired as Fire Chief in 1988.  Guy was a former Deputy for the Harrison County Sheriff's Office; a charter member of the Moose Lodge; member of the Back Bay Volunteer Fire Department; and served in the National Guard.  Chief Roberts was married to the former Iris Dubaz (1929-2014).

2013

David Roberts retired as Fire Chief on March 2013, after 14 years in this position.

 

Joseph Boney-confirmed as Fire Chief by City Council on July 9, 2013.  Mark Dronet named assistant chief on July 11, 2013.(The Sun Herald, July 10, 2013, p. A2 and July 12, 2013, p. A2)

2014

 

Arbor View Fire [D'Iberville, Mississippi-image from The Sun Herald]

Conflagration on March 4, 2014 at the Arbor View Apartments at D'Iberville destroyed all 20 apartments in Building 400 of the apartment complex.  Biloxi units assisted in this large fire.  Krystal Dannielle Gonzalez (b. 1989) of D'Iberville was arrested and charged with on a charge of 1st degree arson.(The Sun Herald, March 13, 2014, p. A1)

_______________________________________

BILOXI FIRE CHIEFS

1883-1896

Philip McCabe

 

Philip McCabe (1837-1905), native of New Orleans and first chief engineer of the Biloxi Volunteer Fire Company, expired in mid-December.  McCabe had married

 

In their youth, Ed Glennan and Charles Redding both worked for Mr. McCabe at NOLA when he had a stove business on Camp Street in NOLA.  McCabe also was the first tin can manufacturer on the Coast making fruit, oyster, and vegetable cans.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, October 28, 1881, p. 3 and The Biloxi Daily Herald, December 16, 1904, p. 5)

 

A.O. Bourdon Sr.

 

1897-

Dan Markey

Dan Markey was elected on August 5, 1897.(The Biloxi Herald, August 7, 1897, p. 1)

 

1896-1933

Frederick Auguste Barthes

[from The Biloxi Daily Herald, September 19, 1907]

Frederick A. Barthes (1864-1948) was the son of F.A. Barthes Sr. (18-1898) and Margaret Alexandrine Binet (d. 1877).  Became Fire Chief in 1896 and retiring in 1933.

 

1933-

Charles Henry Sentell

Charles H. Sentell (1884-1951)

 

1942-1942

Lee Chinn

Lee Chinn (1888-1971), age 82 years, died at Howard Memorial Hospital on Thursday night, March 11, 1971, He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. William David Chinn and was born at Vandalia, Missouri in March 1888 and came to Biloxi in 1890 with his family.  As a youngster, Lee worked for a railroad company at Gulfport and at age 14 became a flagman for the L&N Railroad at the railroad Street crossing in Biloxi. He became a fireman in 1907 and was stationed at the Back Bay fire station. Lee was one of the first drivers of horse-drawn, fire engines at Biloxi. He was also one of the first to drive motor-powered firetrucks when introduce in Biloxi in 1918.

Lee Chinn was named Biloxi's fire chief in January 1942.  He was released following the summer elections of 1942 and William 'Willie' Knox appointed fire chief.(The Daily Herald, January 4, 1943, p. )

In 1968 a new Biloxi fire station was named for him. Among the large Biloxi fires that Mr. Chinn assisted in fighting were:  the Yerger Building on West Howard Avenue; the Avelez Hotel on West Howard Avenue; the Union Hotel; the Peoples Bank; and the Hicks Battery Company on Back Bay.

R. Harvey Chinn (1890-1966), Lee's late brother, had been fire chief of the Keesler AFB fire department.  Lee Chinn retired from the BFD in 1953 and was caretaker at BSA Camp Wilkes for about four years.

Lee Chinn married Lou Ethel Fortner (1898-1971) in Harrison County, Mississippi on July 3, 1915.(Harrison Co., Mississippi Circuit Court MRB 27, p. 359)

Mr. Chinn was survived by his spouse; three sisters: Mrs. W.J. Currie and Mrs. Harry Currie, Shreveport, Louisiana; and Mildred Chinn Olster of NOLA; and many nieces and nephews.

Bradford-O'Keefe Funeral Home of Biloxi directed the Chinn funeral. Lee was a member of the First Methodist Church and his corporal remains were interred in the Southern Memorial Park cemetery at Biloxi.

 

 

 

 

1943-1953?

Lee Chinn

Lee Chinn (1888-1971) was appointed Biloxi's fire chief in January 1943 by Mayor Chester Delacruz.  William Knox who had replaced Chinn,  became his assistant.(The Daily Herald, January 4, 1943, p. )

 

 

1953-

Walter Clark

Walter Clark (1900-1961) was appoined Fire Chief by Mayor Laz Quave (1910-1985) in July 1953.  Chief Clark joined the BFD in 1919.

 

1960s

Frank Gabrich

 

 

 

 

 

-1999

Floyd J. Thibodeaux

Floyd John Thibodeaux married Josephine Sophie Rosetti at NBVM at Biloxi in November 1959.

 

1999-2013

David Roberts

David Robertsbegan his tenure as Biloxi fire chief in1999 to March 2013.  Mark Dronet named acting Fire Chief.

 

2013

Joseph Boney-confirmed as Fire Chief by City Council on July 9, 2013.  Mark Dronet named assistant chief on July 11, 2013.(The Sun Herald, July 10, 2013, p. A2 and July 12, 2013, p. A2)

 

REFERENCES:

 

The Biloxi Herald, “”,

The Biloxi Herald, “”,

The Biloxi Herald, “”,

The Biloxi Herald, “”,

The Biloxi Herald, “”,

The Biloxi Herald, “”,

The Biloxi Daily Herald, “”,

The Biloxi Daily Herald, “”,

The Biloxi Daily Herald, “East End Hose Company”, October 6, 1904.

The Biloxi Daily Herald, “East End”, October 8, 1904.

The Biloxi Daily Herald, “Prominent citizen [Philip McCabe] dead”, December 16, 1904.

The Biloxi Daily Herald, “Mask Ball”, December 22, 1904.

The Biloxi Daily Herald, “”,

The Biloxi Daily Herald, “Prominent citizen [Philip McCabe]dead”, December 16, 1905.

The Biloxi Daily Herald, “”,

The Biloxi Daily Herald, “”,

The Biloxi Daily Herald, “”,

The Biloxi Daily Herald, “East End Hose Company No. 1”, September 19, 1907.

The Biloxi Daily Herald, “”,

 

The Daily Herald, “Three Biloxi Cottages destroyed by fire”, April 26, 1910.

The Daily Herald, “Back Bay Company started in 1904 grow steadily”, September 20, 1915.

The Daily Herald, “$98,000 Fire in Biloxi early Sunday morning”, May 24, 1926.

The Daily Herald, “Biloxi Mayor talks on Fire”, May 29, 1926.

The Daily Herald, “Sentell with City 30 years”, December 7, 1937.

The Daily Herald, “$2000 fire damage to Kress Co. store”, November 13, 1942.

The Daily Herald, “Biloxi Officials”, January 4, 1943.

The Daily Herald, “Heavy water damage results from Biloxi fire”, October 28, 1944.

The Daily Herald, “Start repairing Biloxi fire loss”, October 31, 1944.

The Daily Herald, “Former Biloxi Fire Chief is taken by death”, January 2, 1948.
 
The Daily Herald, “Ex-Fire Chief is taken by death at Biloxi residence”, January 26, 1951.

The Daily Herald, “New Fire Chief”, July 6, 1953.

The Daily Herald, “Assistant Fire Chief”, July 6, 1953.

The Daily Herald, “Fire breaks out at Biloxi A&P; Damage is heavy”, August 26, 1959, p. 1.

The Daily Herald, “”,

 

The Daily Picayune, “”,

The Daily Picayune, “Burnt Biloxi”, June 6, 1889.

The Daily Picayune, “”,

The Daily Picayune, “”,

The Daily Picayune, “”,

The Sun Herald, “Guy B. Roberts Sr.”, February 26, 2009.

The Sun Herald, “Gabriel Lehman, Jr.”, September 22, 2010.

The Sun Herald, “Fire chief’s [Joseph Boney] first emergency call at meeting confirming him”, July 10, 2013, p. A2.

The Sun Herald, “Dronet named Biloxi’s assistant fire chief”, July 12, 2013, p. A2.

The Sun Herald, “”,