Charleston, SC Church Street Fire, Feb 1898


Seven Lives Lost--A Fireman Sees His Family Carried Out Burned and Dead.

CHARLESTON, S. C., Feb. 26.---Seven lives were lost in a fire on Church Street this morning. At 2:10 o'clock a policeman discovered flames issuing from the tenement house at 160 Church Street and he sent in an alarm. The fire started on the first floor, the occupants of which escaped without injury.

The police were informed that a family of women were sleeping on the third floor and they went to the rescue. When they reached the top story the life-saving work was stopped by the flames, which had rapidly spread over the entire building. Agonizing screams were heard, and Officer Bagby rushed in and pulled out three charred bodies. The Fire Department soon checked the fire, but not until seven of the occupants of the third floor had been burned to death. The dead are:

Mrs. Rebecca KNICKMAYER.
Albert O'NEAL.
Caswell O'NEAL.
and a one-month-old baby of Mrs. Knickmayer.

Mrs. Knickmayer was the wife of Theodore Knickmayer, a carpenter, who is also a call man in the Fire Department. The other Knickmayers are all his children and the O'Neals are his brothers-in-law.

Last night Mr. Knickmayer was on watch at the fire engine house at the corner of Meeting and Wentworth Streets. When the alarm came in he was among the first to arrive on the scene, and as turned into Church Street he saw, to his horror, that it was his own house. He rushed into the building, only to see the police carrying out his children, burned and dead.

The building was gutted, but the damage is not very great. The Coroner is holding an inquest.

The New York Times, New York, NY 27 Feb 1898

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