Winecoff Hotel firefighter James Smith passed away today.
Smith was born in Atlanta in 1920. In the early hours of December 7, 1946 he was on duty at Atlanta's fire station number twelve, on DeKalb Avenue on the city's east side when the first alarm was sounded.
Station twelve's engine company was first dispatched to station six and immediately from there to the Winecoff fire scene. "You could see it when you came across Edgewood Bridge. Coming up Edgewood you could see the fire, it was coming out the windows then," Smith said in 2011.
Upon arrival, Smith was ordered to evacuate the hotel's guests from the lower floors, down a darkened stairway which was partially obstructed by fire hoses and cascading water. "They were scared," he remembered. Once the guests who could be evacuated were downstairs, Smith joined the fire fight on the Peachtree Street side.
Additional equipment was needed there. Smith did the heavy lifting. "We'd had to park down there at the Lowes Grand Theater," said Smith. "I mostly remember running back and forth."
James Smith's brother, Charlie Smith from fire station four also fought the fire. In 2011, on the fire's sixty-fifth anniversary, James Smith returned to the scene of the fire
. There he was honored by Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran.
Jim Smith, may he rest in peace.
Labels: Eyewitnesses, Remembrances