Towering Fire Rages Through Lumber Yard At Huntertown

 

7 Departments Finally Beat Flames; Heavy Loss

 

          A towering fire raced through the Schnepp Lumber Co. at Huntertown last night, causing damage estimated at $75,000 by State Police.

          Units from the Huntertown Fire Department, under command of Chief C. W. (Cooney) Tucker, were hampered by their efforts to beat down the blaze when a cistern they were using went dry.

          Emergency calls were placed to nearby fire departments, which assisted in bringing the spark shooting flames under control.

          The blaze was discovered shortly before 7 p.m . by Wilbur Spangle, operator of a nearby service station, who said that the fire was well under way at that time.

          Owners of the firm, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Bowers, could not be reached last night to estimate the loss for fire officials.

          Two other Huntertown residents, Merle Bryie and B.A. Sloffer, who reported the fire shortly after Spangle’s initial discovery, said the origin of the flames appeared to be in the front northwest corner of the building, which faces State Road 3 near the middle of town.

Walls Buckle

          Chief Tucker said the flames shot rapidly through the entire 40 by 80 foot structure, the intense heat causing the cement block walls to buckle outward in crumbling piles.

          High point of the fire came about 7:30 p.m., when the roof caved with a crashing rumble, raining burning embers over the immediate area.

          Adjoining the destroyed building at the rear was a 20 by 30-foot drying kiln, which Tucker reported as being completely gutted. The outside of the structure, however appeared intact.

          Fast work by firemen from Huntertown, Churubusco, Fort Wayne, Kendallville, Avilla, St. Joseph Township, and Washington Township accounted for the saving of several residences and business establishments.

          In serious jeopardy was the home of Willard Knopp, builder and  contractor, and Hubert’s TV Appliance Store, structures located on either side of the flaming lumber yard.

          The lumber company, founded by the late Russell Schnepp, had been in the present location for about 10 years. Tucker said firemen poured a total of about 5,000 gallons of water into the structure in their efforts to limit the fire’s path.

Lumber Stocks Saved

 

          While the fire destroyed quantities  of  lumber, window and door sashes and other similar stock, it failed to damage extensive piles of lumber and other materials stored in the rear of the kiln, which served as a partial barrier in the fire’s path.

          Hundreds of persons from nearby towns, in addition to the normal highway traffic, clogged the area. Firemen and volunteer policemen detoured motorists from the highway, sending them down  a Huntertown street located a block west of State Road 3.

          Twisted lengths of sheet iron and various pieces of lumberyard equipment stood amid the smouldering ruins, where tongues of flames continued to lick at charred timbers well into the night.

 

Journal-Gazette

By Mel Olbina

March 18, 1956

Sunday

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Huntertown Lumber Firm Founder Dies

 

          RUSSELL GLEM SCHNEPP, 35, of 911 1/2  Columbia Ave., founder of the Schnepp Lumber Co., Huntertown, died at 6:12 a.m. yesterday in Parkview Memorial .Hospital.

            Mr. Schnepp had been a patient one and a half days but, had been in poor health the past  five months.

            He was founder and former vice president of the Huntertown Lions Club, a member of the Huntertown Automobile Club, and a member of the Monroeville Methodist Church.

            A native of Van Wert County, Ohio, Mr. Schnepp attended schools in Van Wert, Ligonier, and Fort Wayne, before his graduation from Monroeville High School. He served two years in the Army with the 38th Division.

            Mr. Schnepp founded the lumber company in 1944 and was active in running his business until his death.

            Surviving are the widow, BETTY ELETT;

 the father, LEONARD SCHNEPP, Fort Wayne,

and several nieces and nephews.

            The body is in D.O. McComb & Sons Funeral Home where friends may call after 7 p.m. today. Services will be held at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday in the funeral home. The Rev. Howard J. Western  officiating. Burial will be in Greenlawn Memorial Park.

            Active pallbearers will be Eldon Bailey, Howard Laflin, John Clark, James Yates, George Arnold, and Lee Bushong.

            Honorary pallbearers for the funeral are Ross Hamm, Eldon Taylor, Robert Brockhaus, Kenneth Smith, Richard Buns, Worer Malaby, Donald McCoy, Donald Rietdorf, Arthur J. Meyer, Vaud Shenefield, Joe Findlay, George, Klick, Andy Bernardi, Blaine Evans, Herbert Blombach, Max Kilty, C. Darwood Knafel, Paul Merrinane, Ernest Warner, Edward Myers, and Wilbur Spangle.

 

January 22, 1955