In 1921, a chemical engine mounted on a Ford truck chassis was the town's only piece of fire firefighting equipment. However, it represented a tremendous advance over the fire extinguisher carried earlier by Fire Chief Frank Fanelli.
Fire Takes Heavy Toll in Town’s Business Section
The largest and most destructive fire that the citizens of Jeffersontown were ever called upon to fight, swept through a large area of the business section on Monday night. All business houses on the north corner of the public square were razed by the flames, which were first discovered at about 11:30 pm by J. L. Wigginton. As Mr. Wigginton ran from his room in the Haven Hotel, he noticed a blaze across the street in the rear of the Young Brothers property. Running back to Mr. Young's private garage, he discovered that a shed in front of the garage was in flames.
All the buildings being frame structures, the flames spread swiftly from building to building until, within only a few minutes, the entire corner was ablaze.
The Fire Continues
The telephone exchange, being located on the second floor above the Young Brothers store, was soon put out of commission. The town fire truck, being close at hand, arrived on the scene promptly and Chief Brooks and his men began fighting with the chemical apparatus, against the big odds. Deckman made record time on his motorcycle to Louisville to request the aid of the city's fire department. In the meantime, men, women, and children answered the alarm from far and near, all aiding in the valiant fight to get the fire under control and salvage as much as could be taken from the burning buildings.
When flames reached Wigginton's grocery, its progress was not so swift as the building was a log structure covered with siding, which caused it to burn slower than the other buildings. Next came the office of Myers and Blankenbaker Undertakers. It was decided to wreck this building to prevent the flames from spreading to buildings up the street. Before the wrecking was nearly completed, Louisville's No. 11 motorized engine was on the scene and had a big stream of water spraying on the Wigginton building and then on the undertaker's office. Thus the flames were soon under control.
The following losses were suffered: