East Peoria Firemen Die in Rescue Attempt
Two East Peoria, Ill., fire fighters, Assistant Chief Marvin Stein and volunteer fireman George Cornwell, were killed in a fire in a tavern which had living quarters above it on January 28. The men were trapped when they entered the second floor to search an apartment for occupants.
When the firemen arrived at the fire shortly after 9:45 p.m., they found fire between the walls, but nothing that appeared to be imminently threatening. Almost immediately, Stein and Cornwell went up an outside stairway to search for members of the Wilcox family. Later Mr. Wilcox disclosed that he had followed the two men to the second floor to tell them his family was safely out. He found Chief Stein in the doorway to a second room and lay on the floor talking to him. At that moment there was a terrific explosion. Wilcox rushed out, believing that Stein was behind him.
Fire Chief Lou Erickson said “the real fire broke out at the time of the explosion; the roof was blown off and the whole place became an inferno.” Other firemen tried to get Stein and Cornwell out, but the flames were too intense.