Lima, OH Courthouse Fire, Jan 1929



Valuable Records Destroyed When Floors of Building Fall; Others Saved by Volunteers; Outside Help Responds

Two Lima firemen were killed and the Allen-co courthouse damaged to the extent of more than $100,000 in a fire that started at 10 a. m. Monday and appeared to be of little consequence until part of the roof collapsed, carrying two men to death. At 1:15 p. m. it was announced the fire was under control.

The dead:

John Wolfe, 45, captain of No. 5 department.
John Fisher, 29, hoseman at No. 1 station.

The injured:

Hod Murray, Bluffton. Severe bruises about legs and body. Condition not serious.

Wolfe and Fisher were working under the dome of the courthouse when the roof collapsed, carrying them to the floor below and burying them under tons of debris. Four other firemen, including Chief Mack and Frank Kinzer had been working on the same floor until a few moments before the crash. Two firemen left on other duty and Chief Mack departed to make a round of inspection. Kizer just reached the door as the roof fell.

Murray was injured when he feared being overcome by smoke and slid down a rope from the third floor of the recorder's office. He landed so hard that he suffered injuries requiring treatment at City hospital where it was said his condition is not serious.

When the fire was first discovered it w as not regarded as serious and it was not until a half hour after the first alarm that the flames took on a serious aspect. Chief Mack turned in a second alarm as a precautionary measure. The fire started on the third floor in the room of the court of appeals. Its origin has not been determined.

Firemen John Wolfe and John Fisher, who lost their lives, both supported families. Wolfe was married and had children. Fisher was the support of his mother and other relatives. It is customary that communities show their appreciation of the heroic services of such men when they die in line of duty. The Lima News feels that such appreciation should be shown in this connection and believes a fund should be raised. To start it, The News subscribes $50. Subscriptions will be received by The News and divided equally between the widow and mother of the two dead men. Fuller details will be printed Tuesday.

Mrs. Wolfe, wife of one of the men who was carried to death with the collapes of the roof, learned of the tragedy at her house and hurried to the fire where she pleaded whithe the firemen to do something to bring out her husband. She was hysterical from grief.

As Chief Mach was making his definite statement that two of his firemen, John Wolfe and John Fisher, had lost their lives in the fire, the failthful old courthouse clock which has given the times to Lima for many, many years, its face shrouded in smoke from the burning ruins of the county's capitol, boomed out the hour of twelve, as tho sounding the requiem for the brave firemen who had given their lives.

The fire was discovered by Lewis F. Bitters and Don Slechter, who were passing the courthouse and discovered smoke issuing from the top floor. They went to the office of the surveyor and the fire department was called.

The Lima News, Lima, OH 7 Jan 1929
Lima appreciates and honors the two firemen who Monday gave their lives in fighting the blaze that wrecked the west wing of Allen-co's courthouse, causing damage estimated at more than $100,000. This was indicated Tuesday when subscriptions to the John Wolfe-John Fisher fund began rolling into the office of The Lima News.

Wolfe and Fisher were killed when trapped under a falling roof and their bodies were not recovered until hours afterward. Both died in the line of duty. Both were supporting families.


Funeral services for John Fisher will be held at the residence 1132 Hill-st. at 2 p. m. ednesday with the Rev. E. J. Penhorwood pastor of the South Side Church of Christ officiating. Burial will be in Woodlawn cemetery.

In addition to his mother, with whom he lived, Fisher is survived by two brothers, Frank and Theodore Fisher, of Lima, also two sisters, Mrs. Florence Geise, of Delphos, and Miss Eda Fisher at home.


Services for Capt. Wolfe will be held at the Cantwell Funeral home at 1 p. m. Wednesday with the Rev. E. S. Weaver, pastor of Trinity Methodist church officiating. Burial will be at Woodlawn cemetery. The pall bearers will be selected from members of the fire department.

Wolfe is survived by his widow, Mrs. Grace Ayers Wolfe, his mother, Mrs. N. C. Wolfe, of 777 Greenlawn-av., four brothers, Wilham S. Wolfe, of Detroit; Boyd R. and Walter Wolfe, of Ranger, Tex., and George Leroy Wolfe, of Elizabeth, N. J., also two sisters, Mrs. Frank L. Houtzer, of 542 S. Pine-st., and Mrs. E. L. Neiswander, of 771 Atlantic-av., and three step-children, Mrs. George P. Lauck, of Cridersville, Miss Mary Ayers, at home and Joseph Ayers, of Lima two grandchildren, James and Betty Lauck, of Cridersville.

The Lima News, Lima, OH 8 Jan 1929
In a survey made Tuesday it was found that all current records and files in every department had been preserved from the flames. Only old and obsolete documents and records which were stored in the attic of the building are thought to have been lost or damaged.

The Lima News, Lima, OH 8 Jan 1929

Military Honors Are Paid To Victims of Courthouse Fire Tragedy

Flags at Lima's fire stations floated at half mast Wednesday afternoon as funeral services for Capt. J. S. Wolfe and John Fisher, who lost their lives in the Allen-co. court house fire Monday, were being held.

The United Spanish War veterans of Lima Camp No. 38 attended the funeral of John Wolfe, which was held at 1 p. m. in Cantwell's funeral home. The Rev. E. S. Weaver, pastor of Trinity M. E. church, officiated at the services. Burial was in Woodlawn cemetery. The pall bearers were W. B. Wilcox, assistant fire chief; T. J. Jordan, E. C. Rhine, Frank Eberle, H. C. Smith, and R. K. Shuler, all members of the Lima fire department. Wolfe was a Spanish War veteran.

Funeral services for Fisher, World war veteran, were held in the South Side Church of Christ, with Rev. E. J. Penhorwood, pastor, officiating. Burial was in Woodlawn cemetery. Six members of the legion post acted as pall bearers for Fisher. They were Mayor John A. Harley, Waldo Rose, county clerk of courts; Judge Neil R. Poline, City Manager J. C. Brower, W. B. Wilcox, assistant fire chief, and Weldon Evans, commander of the legion.

Many floral contributions from friends of Lima's fallen heroes were in evidence. At the cemetery military rites were held, with taps being sounded as the bodies were being lowered to their graves.

The Lima News, Lima, OH 9 Jan 1929