On Dec. 19, 1955, fire swept a bungalow four miles southwest of Springfield, killing five children and a young mother, the Springfield Daily News reported. An exploding kerosene stove caused the blaze - one of the deadliest in the history of Clark County.
Donnelsville Fire Chief George Bardgill said the McDaniel residence, at 5701 Lower Valley Pike, collapsed by the time engines arrived from Donnelsville and Springfield Township No. 3 Rockway Station at 3:43 a.m. The house ``contained many Christmas presents,'' the newspaper said. The weather forecast was for sub-zero temperatures.
Robert McDaniel, 44, and his son, Wayne, 6, escaped with second- and third-degree burns, and Mr. McDaniel attempted to return by ladder ``but his rescue attempt was thwarted by the rapidly spreading flames,'' the Daily News reported.
The fire caused a propane tank ``with 800-pound pressure capacity'' to rupture, said Rockway Station Chief M.B. Kenyon.
Due to an outage in the area, a neighbor, Paul Forbeck, drove two miles to a public telephone at U.S. Route 40 and Techumseh Road to summon help. On the way, he met Donnelsville Police Chief John Frank, who was driving toward the flames.
The head of the City of Springfield's fire prevention bureau, Platoon Chief Luke Marmion, who joined the Fire Division in 1909, told the newspaper: ``I have no memory of any fire in this area in which so many persons died.''
The dead were identified as:
Connie Fogle, 13.
Theresa Coleman, 8.
Betty Lou Hamilton, 20.
Rebecca Hamilton, 2.
Debra Hamilton, 3.
Paulette McDaniel, 9.
In 1954, five people died in a fire in neighboring Champaign County, also during the holidays, the Daily News said.