Beaver, PA Boarding House Fire, Nov 1893

SEVEN LIVES SACRIFICED.

FATAL FIRE IN A RATTLE-TRAP HOTEL NEAR BEAVER, PENN.

THE MEN KILLED WERE EMPLOYES ON THE GOVERNMENT DAM -- FATHER AND SON BURNED WHILE LOOKING FOR EACH OTHER.

Beaver, Penn., Nov. 21. -- A frightful holocaust occurred at the Government Dam, two miles below this city, early this morning. Seven or more men were burned to death and several were badly injured. The disaster occurred at the Merrill House, a three-story frame building, built for a hotel and boarding house, to accommodate the employes at the new Government Dam. Every room in the building was occupied last night. The fire was noticed at 4:30 o'clock by WILLIAM BOILLES, the colored porter. The storeroom was then full of flames.
The scene that followed was that of the wildest excitement. Many of the occupants of the room had been working a night turn and had retired only two hours before. All were sleeping soundly, and when aroused became so confused that they lost all presence of mind and wandered through the hallways unable to find means of escape. Seven men are known to have perished, as follows:
JOHN KELLY.
BARNEY WILKES.
ROBERT STANLEY.
J. J. WRENN and his son DANIEL.
R. I. MILLER.
JAMES HUGHES.
The hotel register was burned, and it is not positively known how many men were in the house. The belief is general that others perished.
Several are yet unaccounted for. Men were constantly coming and going, seeking employment. A number of these arrived late last night, but whether they lodged in the hotel is not known.
Within an hour from the discovery of the fire the hotel and contents were in ruins. Not a drop of water could be secured even to cool the glowing embers to enable the men to search for the bodies of the dead. Their charred remains were recovered with the greatest difficulty and danger. They are so badly burned that none except those of Engineer HUGHES have as yet been positively identified.
But for the anxiety of JERRY J. WRENN and his son DANIEL, each for the other's safety, both might have been saved. The boy was out safe. Missing his father, he reentered the building to hunt for him. DANIEL had scarcely disappeared when the father came out searching for his boy. When told that DANIEL was in the building looking for him, the father also returned, and neither was seen again. Nearly all of the men lost their clothing and many of them all their money. THey had recently been paid in checks which had not yet been cashed.

New York Tribune 1893-11-22