When the Gong Rings
A Fire History of Charleston, Illinois
169.  FIRE LOG 1972      

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Sunday, January 16, 1972 saw a nearly million dollars in damage between two county fires. The Sportsman Lounge at 723 7th St. in Charleston and the F & C Automotive parts warehouse at 2109-11 Commercial Ave. in Mattoon. Firemen at both communities battled the fires in temperatures nearing -12 degrees.


Sporty's was one of three businesses destroyed by fire Sunday morning in Charleston.    The tavern, the adjoining Poor Richard's Restaurant and    the    adjacent    Eastern    Illinois    Office Equipment Co., were all completely devastated in the fire which began shortly after midnight. The fire was reported at the Eastern Illinois Office Equipment Co. at 727 7th St. at 1:17 A.M. The cause of the fire has not yet been determined according to Captain Melvin Taylor of the Charleston Fire Department. Taylor could not estimate the cost of the fire, but stated that the Office Equipment Co. building and both of the buildings which comprised Sporty's were "totally destroyed." There was no estimate of the damage available from Richard Hahn, owner of Sporty's. The temperature was 13 degrees below zero as all off-duty and volunteer The ruins were still smoldering Sunday night. The Charleston blaze apparently began sometime after midnight in the basement of the office equipment company. At about 2:00 A.M. flames broke through the roof and about 45 minutes later the fire spread through a firewall into the lounge basement. Flames were visible from the tenth floor of Stevenson Tower (on the EIU campus) as a "mountain of blaze and smoke." Taylor noted that there was some, concern for the Coles County Jail, which lay in the fire's path, but the only damage done was to the house next to Sporty's Damage to the house was minor. There were no injuries reported. A fire fighting unit from Mattoon was called to assist the three Charleston units, and at 9:00 A.M. that morning a pumper truck "was still on duty to stop any flare-ups.

COOLD JOB-- As a newspaper caption stated.  An ice-incrusted Charleston fireman bends to his tak in 12 below zero temperatures early Sunday A.M., Jan. 16, as he battles against the fire which swept through three businesses.  A small band of firemen escaped serious injury or death during the fire when they left a point near the building where they had been working for about a half hour.  Within two minutes the wall collapsed without  warning where the  men had been standing.  Fire Chief George Milliner sustained the only known injury when a brick from another falling wall struck his foot.  He continued on the job, however.

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