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Miller Hardware Store fire - 1961

Fire completely gutted the Miller Hardware Store on Saturday night, May 27, 1961. It also destroyed the Leslie Shoe Store next door to the south and caused heavy smoke damage to the Schmidt Drug Store. These stores were located in the north half of the 500 block of Chestnut Street

The fire started in the basement of Miller Hardware. Minonk Fire Chief Harry D. Smith and electrician Ralph Grampp determined that the fire started from a grounded hot wire.

People from Peoria passing through town on Route 51 saw the fire and reported it to Herc Paloumpis at the Princess Sweet Shop. Herc thought they were kidding him, but after he went down the street and saw it, he turned in the alarm.

Minonk firemen were aided in fighting the blaze by the fire companies from Benson, Rutland, and El Paso. Chief Harold Strauch arrived early with a 12-man crew from Benson, and the Benson and Minonk crews worked the alley in back of the building. The El Paso and Rutland squads took over the front, while the largest Minonk fire truck was stationed at the bank corner, where G. H. Leffers kept three hose lines pumped full at high pressure, taking water from an 8 inch main. They fought the fire for four hours before it could be brought under control, and it was necessary for local firemen to take turns watching and tending the smoldering ashes until 4 p.m. Sunday before they had extinguished the last embers.