G. Calvin Bookhardt
OFD from July 1955 to December 1972)
said an overheated ceiling light started a
pre-dawn downtown Orlando fire which took
the life of Asst. Chief G. Calvin Bookhardt,
a 20-year veteran and injured 12 firemen. A
front-end loader and crane sifting through
blackened brick and cement rubble at David
Lee Wigs, 52 W. Central Blvd, muted the
merriment of Orlando's annual Christmas
parade, as investigators and a Deputy State
Fire Marshal investigate the fire scene.
Bookhardt, 40, was married, the father of
four, and taught Bible Classes on Sunday.
Bookhardt was the third OFD employee to lose
his life in the line of duty.
The gutted store
was a block west of Orange Avenue near
Morrison's Cafeteria (now a outside eating
area for Ember). Flames from the store leaped in
to the 47 degree night air for three hours
before firemen could extinguish the blaze.
The blaze, which destroyed the building,
resulting in an estimated $100,000 in
damage. The west wall collapsed around 1:30
a.m. - about 90 minutes after the fire was
reported. Bookhardt, Longest and MacAllaster
were on the roof preparing to ventilate.
Without warning, the roof and wall
separated. Bookhardt fell between the wall
and roof into the fire, Longest rode the
roof down. MacAllaster grabbed a ladder and
was thrown over the Snorkel. Fleming and Lee
were pinned by the collapsing wall. Twelve
firemen were injured, four hospitalized
(Alan Macallaster, James Fleming, Edward
Lee, and Dennis Longest.) Bookhardt was
pronounced dead at Florida Hospital. The
veteran firefighter's casket was born by a
new fire engine, one he had personally
worked on the last two weeks before he died.
Bookhardt Park -
(Mayor Langford with Mrs.
Bookhardt Unveil Plaque)
Mayor Carl T. Langford
unveiled the memorial plaque for
G. Calvin Bookhardt Park during
dedication ceremonies at 52 W. Central Blvd,
on the site where Assistant Chief Bookhardt
lost his life in the line of duty.
Read an excerpt from retired FF Jim
Fleming's recollection of the fire incident.
Bookhardt Park Dedication Pictures