The Hotel Galt in Sterling, Illinois, was completed in 1890. It was also called the Miami Hotel because it housed the Miami cocktail lounge. The Miami Lounge was a popular mob hangout. The building burned down in December 1971.
Firefighter Arlyn Oetting recounted the day he got the alarm call:
The 1971 fire that destroyed the former Miami Hotel of Sterling was one of his most memorable fires. The hotel was across the street from the former Sears building downtown.As the captain turned the corner, all he said was, “Get some help!” Oetting recalled.“The fire was coming out the front doors of the hotel, as far out as the parking meters on the sidewalk,” he said. “When they got there, they laid a big hose line and started attacking that fire. My lieutenant and I dropped some hoses in front of the door and went down and hooked up to a hydrant there.”Because the hotel had been remodeled numerous times, he said, the ceilings had been dropped. “The fire got into hidden spots and just ran rampant,” he said. “It went up and it started spreading.”Oetting was stationed there most of the night and into the next day. Twenty-seven departments responded, he said. They fought the fire for more than 24 hours.Amazingly, no one was injured.
Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.