Los Angeles Fire Department
Historical Archive

In Memory of
Fireman Wilbert Vogel
Engine Company 7
A Platoon
Appointed November 2, 1928
Died August 9 1937
Roof collapse at Church fire
1276 West 29th Street

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    Harry B. Stires was born February 10, 1884 at Guthrie Center, Iowa.  He joined the Department on February 21, 1916.  He rapidly promoted from Fireman to Engineer and then Lieutenant to Captain.  In on January 3, 1934, while assigned to Truck Company 11, Captain Stires was overcome by smoke at a fire.  Later the same day he responded to an electrical fire where a carbon-tetra-chloride extinguisher was used in a confined space.  Captain Stires was went down again from the toxic fumes of the extinguisher.  With lungs damaged for the second time in a shift  he was transported to the Receiving hospital.  Captain Stires never returned to duty and died of pneumonia a few days later in January 9.  He was survived by his wife, Nelle Stires; a daughter, Hally Stires; a son, Harry Park Stires; his mother and father, Mr. and Mrs. Justus Manly Stires and a brother, Vern Stires all of whom resided in Los Angeles.


    Wilbert Vogel was born March 31, 1899 at Pittsburgh Pennsylvania.  He grew to manhood and at the age of eighteen he enlisted in the U. S. Army, serving in the World War with Battery F-107 Field Artillery.  He was honorably discharged as a First Class Private on May 21, 1919.

    Mr. Vogel married Arvilla Foote on June 10, 1922 at Los Angeles, Calif.  To this union was born a daughter Arvilla, two sons Wilbert Jr. and George.

    Mr. Vogel was appointed to the Los Angeles Fire Department, November 2, 1928 where he served honorably and efficiently, until his late death.  He responded to a fire alarm, at approximately 3:00 p.m. August 3rd, at 29th and Orchard where he received fatal injuries, passing away at the Georgia Street Receiving Hospital at 9:55 a.m. August 9, 1937.  He was also a member of the Fire Fighter's Post No. 102 for the American Legion.

    Services were held at Edwards Brothers Mortuary directed by Bishop Anderson of the Church of the Latter Day Saints and assisted by the Fire Department and American Legion Chaplain of Post No. 102.  Interment at Inglewood Park Cemetery, Inglewood, California.

    Due to his thrift and foresight he leaves his widow well provided for, being a member of the Los Angeles Firemen's Relief Association Class A and Life and Accident.

    To his widow who so bravely hears her burden of grief we offer our deepest sympathy also to her daughter and sons who so nobly shares the sorrow with her.  He also leaves to mourn his departure his father John J. Vogel, his sister Irene Vogel Reese, 2 brothers John A. and Edward C. Vogel and a host of comrades and friends.

    We all join in saying, "Wilbert Vogel, you lived your life well and we cherish your member and may your reward be Everlasting Peace."


THE GRAPE VINE                                                                                 AUGUST 30, 1937

Engine Company No. 7
328 East 24th Street

By Bill Goss

  THE hot, drying air hung over everything like a pall and even the occasional gusts of wind served only to increase the day's discomfort. The date was August 3, 1937, and it was a day that firemen just naturally dread, especially the signal office charged with the responsibility of sending adequate assignments to all alarms and keeping proper coverage on the rest of the city. On this particular day the temperature was well up on the very warm side and the humidity down and fires were going in all parts of the city, among them a couple of two baggers.

    Engine 7 had just returned from a run, to the quarters of Engine 15, where they had moved up earlier in the afternoon upon the transmission of a greater alarm, when they were notified to return to their own quarters at Twenty-fourth and Maple. As the rigs of this two-piece engine company made their way east across town the men could see little columns of smoke arising through the hot air in practically every direction. One of the fellows spoke up and said: "We'll be lucky if we get through this day without a good one."

    It was close to 3:10 p.m. as "Pop" Newman, 7's engineer, was backing his pump into quarters, when Acting Captain Owen Hamlin came running out of the house's office and called: "Hold it, fellows, we have one at 1276 West Twenty-ninth street to take in." Sirens roared and the company headed back in the direction they had just come, for this address was hardly a stone's throw from 15s.

    Rolling west along Twenty-ninth street it soon became apparent that this was to be a real work-out. Dead ahead was an old church, wooden construction, high peaked shingle roof, with a steeple in the front that rose to a height of forty feet above the ground. The fire was digesting the top half of the church in great gulps of flaming fury, and it looked as if the whole southwest corner of Twenty-ninth and Orchard was ablaze. Slowing down a short ways east of the fire on Twenty-ninth Hamlin called for a line to be laid from the hydrant there. Hardly had he spoken when Fireman Wilbert Vogel was off the rig with a loop of hose and as the wagon proceeded down the street he and "Pop" had the pump connected up and ready to go in a matter of moments, for this was a crew that functioned together like a well-oiled machine, everything just clicked off. '

    In front of the fire Hamlin noted that 7s was the only company there as yet and decided to go into the front door and head the fire off from that point. Firemen Ferdinand "Fritz" Hayman and Tommy Mize quickly laid out the necessary sections, put on a nozzle and headed in to the main entrance of the church. The minute they stepped inside they were in it, as fire was all over the place, especially above and ahead of them, but Mize on the nozzle and Hayman backing him up, made every drop of water count and they were soon boring their way in.

    About this time Vogel joined the two men, having completed his other duties and tapping Mize on the shoulder said: "Let me take it for a while, Tommy." About this time, and without any warning the little group was struck down and buried under an avalanche of plaster, timbers and other debris. Vogel was first to struggle free of the entangling rubble and, bent over, staggered to the sidewalk where Hamlin, who had been in the back part of the building checking up on the situation, ran up in time to help the injured man lie down and sent someone to call for an ambulance. Inside Mize was hanging desperately on to the yet open line and calling to Hayman: "Fritz, Fritz, shut down the line, will you." But Hayman continued to sit there in the debris as one in a daze and finally starting to push his helmet back on his head he uttered a cry of pain that aroused him enough to shut the line down. Then Mize crawled over to him to see what was the matter and found that Fritz had a big gash running down the back of his head. He was helped outside to where Vogel was, to await the arrival of the ambulance. As yet no one knew what was the matter with Vogel except his chest was hurt and that shock was setting in rapidly, but the men from other companies that had arrived in the meanwhile made him as comfortable as possible.

    Acting Battalion Chief McKee of Battalion Four, now in command of the operations as the fire, went into the entrance of the church to find out what had happened, discovered that a heavy 5x5 timber extending up through the steeple to form a flag pole on top had crashed down through the second floor choir loft and onto the men working in the entrance hall of the church when its supports had burned away. As it fell part of its force was taken up by the flooring of the second story and the ceiling of the first floor hallway. Nevertheless the barrage of rubble knocked the men down and the big beam struck Hayman a glancing blow and hit Vogel full force.

    The ambulance from the nearby University police station took the two men to the Receiving Hospital where it was found that Vogel was far more seriously injured than had been realized. His ribs on the right side from the second to the seventh were fractured in the frontal region and the second to ninth ribs in the area next to the spine, in short his chest was crushed. Rescue 23 erected an oxygen tent over him at the hospital but despite this and all the efforts of the best men of medical science, internal hemorrhaging continued and traumatic pneumonia set in. Finally, overwhelmed, Wilbert Vogel passed away at 9:55 a.m., August 9, 1937.

    Wilbert Vogel was born Mark 31, 1899 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. At the age of eighteen he enlisted in the U.S. army, serving in World War I with Battery F, 107th Field Artillery. He was discharged from the army on May 21, 1919. Vogel was appointed to the Los Angeles Fire Department on November 2, 1928, and had the reputation of being a fine and efficient fireman where ever he served, which was largely in Battalion Four. He was survived by his widow, Mrs. Arvilla Vogel, daughter Florence, now 21, two sons, Wilbert O., Jr., 18, now in the U.S. Navy at San Diego, and George A. Vogel, a young man of 15.

Funeral services were held at Edwards Brothers chapel on Venice boulevard, in chapel of Bishop Leslie G. Anderson of the Manchester Ward of the Church of the Latter Day Saints, of which Mr. Vogel was an Elder. Interment was at Inglewood cemetery in charge of the chaplain and the honor guard of American Legion Post No. 102.

The Firemen's Grape Vine, January 1945

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