OTHER NOTABLE FIRES
January 15th, 1928 –A downtown fire on Elk Avenue completely gutted Miles Department Store and Atwood Five and Ten Cent Store. Equipment from Erwin and Johnson City Fire Departments were sent to assist with the blaze.
November, 1932 –The Carter County Courthouse was damaged by fire. The roof was destroyed, but outside walls were unharmed. Damage was estimated at $25,000. The Johnson City Fire Department also responded.
December 27th, 1958 –Flames destroyed the historic Power City Mills on North Sycamore Street. Fire in the 3-story frame structure was discovered shortly after 1:30 AM. Other homes in the immediate vicinity suffered damage from the intense heat generated by the fire. Johnson City FD responded with equipment and manpower.
February 9th, 1970 –Wright’s Supermarket on West G Street suffered heavy loss of merchandise and damage to the interior of the building from an afternoon fire.
December 27th, 1971 –An E. Elk Avenue fire destroyed 2 downtown businesses, the Western Auto and C & L stores. The fire began around 11:45 AM, with Johnson City FD arriving to help about an hour later. West Carter, Hampton and Watauga Volunteer Fire Departments also assisted. Damage was estimated at approximately $250,000.
January 16th, 1972 –Downtown was hit by its second E. Elk Avenue fire within an 18 day period. The Jennings-Honeycutt Insurance and Real Estate building and Red’s Bargain Barn were gutted by the fire. The Drapery Shop and several businesses in the Dungan Arcade Building also received water and smoke damage. EFD was once again assisted by JCFD and West Carter, Hampton and Watauga Volunteer Fire Departments. Damage was estimated at approximately $100,000.
1980 –The old Franklin Club was completely destroyed by fire. Losses were estimated at approximately $4000,000. Arson was strongly suspected.
November 8th, 1980 –The Bemberg Plant caught fire, completely destroying the west wing of the plant. Approximately 140 men from multiple departments, both paid and volunteer, responded with at least 20 fire trucks. Arson was suspected.
December 31st, 1983 –The Capital Theater on East Elk Avenue was completely destroyed by fire. Local volunteer Fire Departments assisted with manpower.
February 3rd, 1984 –A fire originating from 524 East E Street destroyed two Downtown businesses, Pioneer Furniture Mart and Peter’s Used Furniture next door. Firefighters from all 3 shifts were called in to battle the blaze. EFD was assisted in their efforts by the Stoney Creek and Hampton-Valley Forge Volunteer Fire Departments. The Sandwich Shop, next door, also suffered some minor damage. Arson was suspected in the case.
October 5th, 1988 –The historic Saint Thomas Episcopal Church, located at 815 Second Street, suffered heavy damage to the sanctuary from a 7:00 AM fire. St. Thomas was the oldest Church still in use in Carter County, having been built in the 1850’s. Early estimates had the fire causing $45,000 to $50,000 worth of damage. The Church is still in use today.
November 22nd, 1988 –The most tragic event in EFD history occurred when a 2 story residential structure fire at 109 S. Roan Street claimed the lives of 5 Elizabethton youth. The children, ages 3-15, were overcome by smoke inhalation and rendered unable to escape the blaze.
April 13th, 1993 –Sonny’s Sunshine Market, 825 North Lynn Avenue, burned to the ground. The building housed a convenience store downstairs and apartments upstairs. EFD was assisted by Watauga and Stoney Creek Volunteer Fire Departments. The fire was determined to have resulted from “a deliberate act of arson” according to the State Arson Investigator. Damage was estimated at $300,000.
December 1st, 1997 –Fire at North American Rayon Corporation. The fire was determined to have started from a short in a dryer motor and spread vertically up a wall to the ceiling area, penetrating roof decking and tar coating, causing fire to travel along and under beam joists. Parts of the roof had to be cut away to extinguish the fire. The two off-duty shifts were called in to help, with 28 of EFD’s 33 firemen responding to this fire. EFD was on scene for nearly 8.5 hours. This was Mike Shouse’s first fire as Chief, having officially taken over the position only 2.5 hours prior to dispatch.
March 14th, 1999 –A residential structure fire at 620 Orchard Road Extension completely destroyed the home and 2 automobiles, for a total loss of just under $1,000,000. EFD responded to the fire shortly after 6:00 AM and remained on scene for 6 hours. 20 firemen responded to the call with 4 Fire Engines and Ladder-1.
February 25th through March 8th, 2000 –The North American Corporation Fires. Click here for more information.