Illinois Fire Service Institute

 

Firefighter Record

Firefighter Details

Name Cassius Wonder
Agency Peoria Fire Department
Rank Captain
Type of Firefighter Career
Age Range 46 to 50
Sex Male
Date of Birth 4/23/1860
Date of Death 7/24/1906
Cause of Death Struck by object
Nature of Death Trauma
Attribute of Death [not applicable]
Type of Duty Firefighting operations , Hose operations

Incident Details

Incident Name N/A
Incident City Peoria
Incident State IL
Incident Date 7/23/1906 0:5
Incident Location Storage
Incident Attribute Structural collapses , Fires

Incident Summary

On Tuesday, July 24, 1906, the Peoria Fire Department lost one of its eldest and bravest brothers, Captain Cassius C. “Cash” Wonder. Wonder, 46, resided at 106 Warner Avenue with his wife, Cora, and three daughters, Irene, Eva and Jesse. Wonder was appointed to the Peoria Fire Department by Chief James Smith. During his 22 years of service, he rose through the ranks to become captain of Hose Co. 2.

At 12:05 a.m., Monday, July 23, 1906, smoke was seen pouring from the Central Livery Stable on South Madison Street between Main and Fulton Streets. Box Alarm 8 sounded, and fire crews were dispatched from the Holly and Central Fire Houses. Fire Marshal Arthur Tendering arrived on the scene and took command. As soon as Tendering realized he would need more help, he traveled to city hall to authorize a “33 All Hands” general alarm. Instead of the general alarm, however, the fire operator mistakenly rang Box Alarm 15. As a result, several fire crews were dispatched to the north end of the city. As they reached the area of Box 15, the firemen discovered the error, and a “33” was sounded.

While waiting for the other companies to arrive, Assistant Chief Dennis O’Connell helped Wonder advance a hoseline to the structure. Wonder and O’Connell, with two pipemen, William Frye and James Lynch, paused a moment just inside the second-floor doorway, when suddenly the charred props to the ceiling gave way. The attic floor collapsed, sending a large mass of burning wreckage down on the four men. Frye and Lynch managed to jump to safety. Wonder and O’Connell, however, were caught and buried under blazing bales of hay. Frye and Lynch sprang to the rescue of their stricken comrades, followed by Chief Tendering and the entire department. Ten minutes passed before the men were finally removed from the suffocating mass. O’Connell was found first. Though seriously injured, he urged the rescuers to concentrate on finding Wonder. Wonder was eventually found and transported to Cottage Hospital, never to regain consciousness. He died on Tuesday, July 24, 1906, at 12:15 a.m.

Funeral services for Captain Cassius C. “Cash” Wonder were held Thursday, July 26, 1906, at Calvery Church. A large group of men from the Peoria Fire Department and Spencers Band led the procession to Springdale Cemetery. There, firefighters laid to rest one of the finest men of the department.

Summary by Marty Baker and Doug Brignall, Peoria Fire Department


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