By August 29, 2014 Read More →

The Morgan Messenger revisits Washington House Hotel fire that shocked town 40 years ago

 

Photo of the Washington Hotel fire in Berkeley Springs, W.Va., on Aug. 25, 1974. Photo by C. Dwan McBee

Photo of the Washington Hotel fire in Berkeley Springs, W.Va., on Aug. 25, 1974. Photo by C. Dwan McBee

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va — Forty years ago, the Washington House Hotel burned in a fire that killed 12 people and destroyed a block of downtownBerkeley Springs. This was the scene around 4 a.m. on Sunday, August 25, 1974, when Dwan McBee arrived, camera in hand. His first impression, as reported in The Morgan Messenger at this time: “The sight is awesome, appalling — the central core of Washington House Hotel already a mass of flames and two fire companies — Berkeley Springs and Hancock — fighting bravely, but losing ground to the raging, spreading inferno.”


It was around 3 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 25, 1974, when town policeman Lee Fox was making his last patrol of the night.

While making his way past the Washington Hotel, Fox noticed smoke coming from the hotel. Fox then stopped a driver passing by — David Moore — and instructed him to go to the hotel and warn the inhabitants. Fox, who was also a volunteer fireman, went to the Fire Department building and turned on the siren.

The hotel building was completely gone when this photo was taken about 5:20 a.m., but the fire had spread into adjoining stores on Washington and Fairfax streets, including the Colonial Barber Shop and Dawson’s Souvenirs. 

Photo of the Washington Hotel fire in Berkeley Springs, W.Va., on Aug. 25, 1974. Photo by C. Dwan McBee

Photo of the Washington Hotel fire in Berkeley Springs, W.Va., on Aug. 25, 1974. Photo by C. Dwan McBee


This began a long night for Berkeley Springs. Twelve people died, the Washington House Hotel burned to the ground and several buildings were either destroyed or severely damaged. …

Read the entire story at http://www.morganmessenger.com/news/2014-08-27/Front_Page/Washington_House_Hotel_fire_shocked_town_40_years_.html

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