Dec. 26, 1945, in The Star: On Christmas Eve Bert Cole became the first firefighter in the Anniston department’s history to lose his life fighting a fire. The scene of his death was the Commercial National Bank building at 12th and Noble, where a blaze gutted the three-story building which contained not just bank headquarters but other professional firms’ offices. Cole, 51, was killed instantly by flying bricks when a backdraft explosion turned the building into a sheet of flame. Fortunately for the bank, all records, securities, other valuables and customers’ safety deposit boxes were in a fireproof, waterproof vault, which at this point is still buried under rubble of the 43-year-old building. First reported from the police station shortly after 1 on Christmas morning, the fire erupted into a deadly explosion around 2 o’clock, when people 12 blocks away heard the blast. The glow against the sky could be seen for miles. Firefighters report the wind was blowing from the southeast, whereas if it had been a north wind, the entire block would probably have gone up in flames.
Dec. 26, 1995, in The Star: L. B. Shaddix, 78, of Anniston, believes he has a strong ethical argument for reclaiming ownership of a 30-acre section of Fort McClellan land that his grandfather sold off in 1917 when the Chamber of Commerce was helping the military acquire the acreage that would become Fort McClellan. Now that the fort is due to close (in 1999), Shaddix is approaching public and bureaucratic officials to see what hope there is for him to get the L-shaped chunk of land back. Rob Richardson, executive director of the Fort McClellan Reuse and Redevelopment Authority, said Shaddix’ only hope might be to find an authentic written agreement between his grandfather and the federal government ensuring the land’s return following its closure as a military base.