Hearing stories about the St. Anthony Hospital fire, which happened 70 years ago this month, was common when Jim Wolters was a young boy, although he was just a toddler when the fire broke out and killed 77 people.
Wolters would later have a personal connection to the fire.
“My mother-in-law was in the hospital fire,” said Wolters. “She jumped from a second-story window and that jump resulted in breaking her back. She was laid up for quite awhile.”
Learning about Effingham's historic hospital fire was a part of what nudged Wolters into a 50-year career in the fire service industry.
Now 72, the Effingham resident recently hung up his helmet and gear for the last time, when he retired as a paid-on-call firefighter. He had most recently served as the second assistant chief for the Effingham Fire Department.