Vallejo, CA Elks Building Fire, Jan 1933

FIVE MEN BURNED TO DEATH AS FIRE SWEEPS CLUBHOUSE.

OTHER FATALITIES MAY RESULT FROM BLAZE IN CALIFORNIA ELKS BUILDING.

Vallejo, Cal., Jan. 1. -- (AP) -- Five men sleeping in the Elks Club building here were burned to death today in a fire that destroyed the three-story wooden structure.
An unidentified resident was missing and fear was expressed that temporary guests, who may have remained in the club dormitory after a New Year celebration last night, might have perished.
The victims were identified as:
E. J. SWASEY, club caretaker.
EDWARD GEERING, retired Vallejo business man.
E. A. FOGARTY.
FRANK WIGGIN, both Mare Island employes.
WILLIAM MITCHELL, retired business man.

Two Escape.
Two other club residents escaped after the fire started. One of them was treated for burns and the other for shock.
A committee of firemen and club officials inspected the building at 4:30 a.m. today after the celebrants had departed. They were seeking smoldering tobacco ashes, or other fire hazards. An hour after they left the building the entire facade was discovered to be in flames and an alarm was sounded.
The entire Vallejo fire department, augmented by apparatus from the Mare Island navy yard, began to pour water on the fire, but finding the building was doomed, firemen concentrated on saving adjoining structures.
THOMAS GAFFNEY a club resident, climbed from his window to a ledge high above the street. While he poised, apparently deliberating whether to make a leap of about 75 feet, firemen reached the ledge with a ladder. GAFFNEY was led down it to safety. He was treated for burns.

Search For Bodies.
Elks Club officials believed at first that GAFFNEY and MILTON CUTLER, another resident, who escaped by climbing to a rear roof, were the only guests. Firemen raking the embers, however, discovered five bodies.
Firemen late today began drenching the ashes in order to make a further search for bodies.
The building, valued at $80,000, was insured for $32,000. It was formerly a girls' school. Its only staircase was centrally located and probably formed a flue up which the flames roared, firemen said.
Of the victims, GEERING, whose wife died a year ago, had been living in Sacramento for the last year, friends said. He returned here only recently and had been dealing in real estate. He formerly was a barber. SWASEY came here from Los Angeles, where he had relatives, two months ago.

Galveston Daily News Texas 1933-01-02