Home Life History History: 1933 BOSSIER HOTEL FIRE KILLS ONE, INJURES OTHERS

History: 1933 BOSSIER HOTEL FIRE KILLS ONE, INJURES OTHERS

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The following account which appeared in the April 27, 1933 issue of the Bossier Banner certainly gives cause for twenty first century citizens to be thankful for modern fire departments and firefighting methods, not to mention requirements for insurance.

“One unidentified man was burned beyond recognition and seventeen other guests of the Bossier Hotel in Bossier City narrowly escaped injury Sunday morning when the structure was gutted by flames and almost completely consumed.”

“The alarm was turned in about 2:15 a.m. Sunday morning by Night Marshals W. L. Mabry and Gordon Bumgardner after the blaze had gained considerable headway in the rear of the building.  The Bossier City Fire Department answered the call immediately and was having a hard time getting the blaze under control when assistance arrived from Shreveport in the shape of two additional trucks.”

“Guests were awakened from their sleep to find the rear of the structure in flames and the fire rapidly spreading to other portions of the building.  As the partitions were constructed almost exclusively of builders’ board, the fire gained ground rapidly.”

“Guests of the hotel sleeping on the second floor were forced to jump to the ground.  One man suffered a sprained ankle, another a sprained wrist and a third had a portion of the hair burned from his head.  The guests of the hotel were forced to leave without putting on their clothes or collecting their belongings, and all of these were destroyed.”

“An unidentified man, sleeping in an upstairs room, becoming frenzied, kicked out the glass from a window and begged to be taken out of the building.  Jack Chambers, captain of the Bossier City Fire Department, entered the room by means of a ladder.  The heat was so intense and the smoke so bad that he was unable to locate the man before being forced from the room.  An hour later, when the firemen were again able to get into the room, they discovered him burned severely, and dead.  Harold Roy, Bossier City fireman, discovered the body.”

“The identity of the man had not been cleared up yesterday and in all probability the corpse will be interred in a pauper’s grave.  In one pocket of the trousers he was wearing was found a $10 bill, but all other papers that he may have had were consumed in the fire.”

“W. B. Williams, chief of the Bossier City Fire Department, after an examination of the charred remains of the building, stated that the fire probably originated in the kitchen.  Other theories included spontaneous combustion among refuse.  The loss, not covered by insurance, is estimated at $3000, exclusive of the personal effects of the guests.”

The Bossier Hotel was located at 615 Barksdale Boulevard (originally named Cain Street) in Bossier City.  The 1931 city directory lists the Bossier Hotel’s location as 615 Cain Street while two years later, in 1933, the location of the Bossier Hotel is listed as 615 Barksdale Boulevard.  A circa 1920 photograph in the Historical Center archives shows a very vague image of the old wooden two-story hotel.

Learn more about Bossier history by visiting the Bossier Parish Library Historical Center.

Ann Middleton is Director of the Bossier Parish Library Historical Center. She can be reached at (318) 746-7717 or amiddlet@state.lib.la.us.