Texarkana, TX Avenue Hotel Fire, Aug 1953


Texarkana, Tex., Aug. 3. - (AP) - Fire trapped and killed seven persons in a small upstairs hotel with only one exit.
Four persons were injured, and three escaped without harm. Two of the injured were in critical condition.
The structure was the Avenue Hotel.

Seven Escape.
Four of the seven survivors fled down the one stairway. Two went out windows, and firemen found a four alive after the blaze was brought under control.
Five fully clothed bodies were found huddled together at the window of one room. The victims apparently had tried to rip out a fan and venetian blind in order to jump. The five apparently had retreated into the room as the fire ate down the hall toward them.

All Windows Sealed.
Fire Chief C. P. Birmingham said the fire was small and brought under control quickly. But each room was cooled by a fan sealed into the lower half of the window, barring escape.
The fire apparently started in the lobby.
The hotel had 10 rooms, separated by a hallway that ran back from the lobby the length of the wood and brick-veneer building. The stairway ran from the lobby to the street.
The hotel was on the second floor of the 2-story building, over a men's clothing store and café.
The dead were identified as:
JIM COVINGTON, JR., 33, of Dallas, his wife, and son, 11.
CHARLES McBRIDE, of Houston, an elderly man.
ROY CROUCH, of Dallas.
JIMMY DALE REED, of Ashdown, Ark.
One person burned so badly sex and age could not be determined.

Owner Escapes.
MRS. B. BAKER, owner and operator of the hotel, said she did not have the names of all her guests. She lived in two rooms of the hotel and escaped through a window onto a small wooden roof over the sidewalk.
BOYD ROGERS, of Webster, also went out a window after tearing the fan loose with his hands. He said he stayed on the window ledge until the heat became so intense he could stand it no longer.
He jumped 16 feet to the sidewalk and suffered a broken arm, broken leg and crushed face.
MRS. MARGARET STONE of Texarkana, one of the four who escaped down the stairway, suffered second and third-degree burns about her head and body.
Her nylon slip melted into her flesh. She was listed in critical condition.
The other critically injured person was LESLEY POPE, of Ashdown, Ark., found alive in the hotel by firemen.
He also suffered second and third-degree burns.

Barred By Flames.
J. R. TITTLE of Boonville, Miss., his wife and daughter, 5, were the others who fled down the stairway. TITTLE then returned to try to wake others in the hotel, but flames barred him from the lobby.
TITTLE said he "yelled and yelled" to try to arouse others in the hotel until he was forced to retreat to the street.
His feet were badly burned in his effort to save others.
Mrs. Tittle said the old wallpaper in the hallway and lobby burned furiously, filling the hotel with stifling smoke as they fled. "You couldn't breathe," she said.
Raymond Seeward, a cab driver, carried TITTLE to his car. He said he also tried to help MRS. STONE but she was so burned that her flesh
"felt like cotton" and he couldn't carry her.
Kenneth Sivley, another cab driver said:
"When we got over there you could hear them hollering and everything. The man who had jumped out the window was on the sidewalk saying,
'People, I jumped out the window. Do something for me.'"

People Stand Around.
Sivley said firemen were working and spectators standing around ROGERS as he lay on the sidewalk pleading for help.
"Smoke was coming out of every window and you could hear things falling inside," he said.
At 5:30 a.m. - a little more than two hours after the fire began - firemen carried six bodies from the ruins. These were the five trapped in one room and a sixth victim found in another room, his face buried in a feather pillow in an effort to escape the smoke.
The seventh victim, an unidentified man, died in a hospital.

Corsicana Semi-Weekly Light Texas 1953-08-04