Saturday, May 31, 2008

Fire Destroys House And Numerous Out Buildings On Ridge Road

On May 31, 1922 at 9:00 a.m. firemen were summoned to the Ridge Road for a woodshed fire. The fire was discovered in a woodshed and help was quickly summoned from Shippensburg. Firemen arrived quickly and pumped two wells dry in an attempt to save the property. Despite their best efforts the house, woodshed, corn cribs, wagon shed and all other out buildings on the property were destroyed. The firemen were able to save the barn. A damage estimate was not available. The Cumberland Valley Hose Company answered the alarm.

The photograph in today's post is of the Cumberland Valley Hose Company showing off their new uniforms in front of their station on May 31, 1915. I would like to be able to keep the photograph and caption together when they differ from the days post but if I put the picture any place but the top it will not do anything when you click on it.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Fabricating Business Destroyed In Accidental Fire

On May 30, 1995 at 8:50 a.m. firefighters responded to 8933 Rowe Run Road, Southampton Franklin for a building fire. Sparks from a grinder ignited flammable liquids used to clean parts at a fabricating business. When firefighters arrived 70% of the 50-by-225-foot building was involved in fire. Firefighters had the blaze under control in 30 minutes. Damages were estimated at $75,000. The West End Fire and Rescue and Vigilant Hose companies answered the alarm.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Make History Today Boys...

I was not going to post today because nothing major occurred on this day in history in the years I have typed in the data base, but with the amount of people viewing the site each day (49 completely different people looked at the site yesterday) I didn't want to miss a day. I didn't have the chance to prepare a rig or anything else for the entry so I thought I would put this one up.

The photograph is from Barren Hill and would have been taken in the 1950's. The unit on the far left is a 1947 Ford rescue truck. West End Fire and Rescue purchased the rig sometime in 1959 or 1960 the exact date unknown. It was in the company's possession in June of 1960.

The rig right beside the rescue (second from left) is a Ford pumper. Some think WEFR purchased their 1950 Ford Maxim engine from Barren Hill. I even found photographs of the Barren Hill engine at WEFR but like all history their is a twist making me doubt it. WEFR purchased the rig in August 1965 and took possession of it in September of that year. Barren Hill celebrated their 50Th anniversary that year and the rig is in the photo with their fleet. It could still be the same engine. But upon further investigation of the photographs the Barren Hill rig had a steamer intake on the curb side, WEFR's also had a 2 1/2 inch discharge above it. On the pump panel side their is many things different between the WEFR rig and the builders photo for Barren Hill. Now is gets more confusing the pump panel on this photograph does not match the builders photo but more closely resembles the WEFR pump panel. Both rigs appear to be the same year, I am no expert on ages of rigs but the fenders, lights and everything else is the same.

Did Barren Hill have two of these rigs? Could the pump panel have been altered? Is this the same rig WEFR owned? All of these are good questions and ones I have no answer for. WEFR's minutes do not state where they purchased the rig from, it would make sense that they would purchased another rig from Barren Hill since they already had an association with the company. I plan to get a hold of someone from Barren Hill to see what their minutes say, maybe that will give us a definite answer, but in the past I have not had much luck with departments returning my messages or calls.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

South Penn Street Homes Destroyed

On May 28, 1923 at 3:30 p.m., South Penn Street extended (the paper refers to this area as Wrightsville, I had never heard of the area being called that way before). When firemen arrived one house was well involved. With no hydrants in the area the firemen were of little use and the flames quickly spread to a neighboring home. Both homes were destroyed along with the contents of one. Most of the belongings in the exposure building were removed before the flames consumed it. Children playing with matches may have caused the fire. A damage estimate was not available. The Vigilant Hose and Cumberland Valley Hose companies answered the alarm.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Newburg Barn Burns

On May 27 1967 sometime in the afternoon hours, KGD-556 alerted fore companies for a barn fire on Star Route 2, Newburg. Defective electrical wiring sparked a blaze that destroyed the barn and its contents. One calf was lost in the blaze. Firemen from two companies fought the fire for about four hours. A damage estimate was not available. Four years earlier the house burnt down on the same property. The Vigilant Hose Company assisted at scene.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Community Ambulance Completes First Year Of Service

On Thursday May 26, 1932 the Cumberland Valley Hose Company Community Ambulance completed exactly one year of service to Shippensburg and the surrounding community. In the year the ambulance made 85 trips and massed over 4,000 miles.

This photograph appeared in The News Chronicle on May 26, 1967. Pictured are the officers of the Vigilant Ladies Auxiliary. Seated from left to right are Dolores Myers, president; Blanche Mastalski, vice president; Nancy Holtry, treasurer. Standing left to right is Evelyn Helm and Catherine Sanders, trustees and Nancy Thompson, secretary.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Newburg Woodcraft Destroyed By Fire

On May 25, 2004 at 5:28 p.m. box 15-5 was alerted for a building struck by lightning on 8915 Rowe Run Road, Southampton, Franklin County. When the first unit arrived five minutes later fire had control of the second floor and a defense attack was ordered. The building contained the Newburg Woodcrafters building and made furniture, it was formerly the Pinola Chicken Hatchery. Firefighters from six companies had the fire in the 50 by 100 foot building under control by 7:59 p.m. Units remained on the scene until 9:30 p.m. Damages were estimated at $350,000. The Vigilant Hose, Cumberland Valley Hose and West End Fire and Rescue companies operated at the scene.

At 10:36 p.m. units returned for a rekindle and were available in 15 minutes. On May 26 units again responded for a rekindle at 5:45 a.m., units remained on the scene for over three hours.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

300 Chickens And Livestock Perish In Greenvillage Fire

On May 24 1941 at 2:10 a.m. firemen were alerted to a barn fire on the Molly Pitcher Highway at the southern edge of Greenvillage. By the time members of the Franklin's had arrived the barn was well involved and a nearby chicken house and hog pen were on fire. Firemen pumped water from a cistern on the scene to protect other building on the property. Lost in the fire were 30 hogs, 300 chickens a cow, calf and a valuable stallion along with other belongings. Because of the high winds spreading sparks through out Greenvillage the Vigilant Hose Company’s rural pumper was requested for assistance. Damages were estimated at $8,000.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Trindel’s IGA Foodliner Burns

On May 23, 1971 at 9:34 p.m. the local Civil Defense room alerted the Shippensburg Fire Department to a building fire at Trindel’s IGA Foodliner on the corner of East Orange Street and Hollar Avenue. When firemen arrived flames were coming through the roof on the Hollar Avenue side. Firefighters had the blaze under control within an hour and declared out at 12:30 a.m. Borough Fire Chief Ed Thrush said the storage area suffered heavy fire damage and the main store suffered extensive damage from heat and smoke. Firemen found the blaze difficult to fight because of the dense smoke and the false ceilings installed when the building was remodeled. The chief said the fire was “very suspicious in origin”. Damages were estimated at $150,000. One firefighter was injured and treated at Chambersburg Hospital and released.

At 2:40 a.m. Chief Thrush was making a routine check on the fire when he discovered it had rekindled. With the help of the fire policemen still on the scene they used a hose that was left connected to a hydrant on Hollar Avenue to extinguish the fire. Later in the afternoon the three fire companies again returned to the scene for a rekindle. The Vigilant Hose, Cumberland Valley Hose and West End Fire and Rescue companies battled the blaze.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Barn Burns Down In North End Of Town

On May 22, 1859 at about 9 p.m. the cry of fire could be heard over Shippensburg. Firemen from the Vigilant’s pulling the “Hibernia” engine and the Cumberland boys pulling the “Cumberland Valley” engine raced to the scene on the north end of town. By the time the firemen arrived the barn was well off and efforts were made to save the exposures. A small stable was also destroyed. A damage estimate was not available. A suspect was later arrested for firing the barn. The Vigilant Fire and Cumberland Valley Fire companies answered the alarm.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Eight Buildings Destroyed In Cove Alley

On May 21, 1935 at 6:30 p.m. the Newville Fire Company was alerted for a fire on Cove Alley in the borough of Newville. The blaze started in the frame stable of Wilbur Getter and spread to the stables on both sides. The fire spread so rapidly that the Friendship’s were unable to gain control of it and quickly summoned help from Shippensburg and Carlisle.

By the time firemen from five companies could get control of the blaze at 7:30 p.m. seven stables were burnt to the ground, some located on Liberty Alley (this was in the area of the fountain and Big Spring Avenue). Damages were estimated at $3,800. This was Newville’s worst fire since August 1913 when eleven stables were destroyed along Church Alley. The Vigilant Hose and Cumberland Valley Hose companies assisted at the scene. While en route the Cumberland Valley engine suffered mechanical difficulties but quick repairs got the rig back on the road in time to help at the fire.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Barn And Two Out Buildings Destroyed In Lurgan Township

On May 20, 2002 at 7:15 p.m. Franklin County 911 alerted a 51 box for a barn fire at 7753 Brethren Church Road, Lurgan Township. When crews arrived they found a barn and two attached wagon sheds well involved. Along with the buildings a car, tractor, motorcycle, lumber and other items were lost. Approximately 50 firefighters from nine companies battled the blaze and remained on the scene until 1:30 a.m. One civilian was injured. Firefighters shuttled water from a nearby stream. A damage estimate or cause was unavailable. The Vigilant Hose, Cumberland Valley Hose and West End Fire and Rescue companies assisted at the scene.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Cumberland County Firemen Organize

On May 19, 1927 sixty Cumberland county firemen representing 12 companies attended an organizational meeting of the Cumberland County Firemen’s Association held in Carlisle. Officers were elected.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Criswell’s Warehouse Burned To The Ground

On May 18, 1869 a few minutes past one o’clock in the afternoon an alarm of fire was sounded in Shippensburg. Firemen soon found the fire to be in the rear of Criswell’s warehouse on Railroad Street. Flames spread rapidly in the two-story frame building causing its complete destruction. The building was only 18-months old built after fire destroyed the previous building on the site. Firemen concentrated their efforts on protecting two nearby dwellings and a stable. A damage estimate was not available. Charles Railing of the Cumberland Valley Fire Company suffered a broken arm after it got caught under a brake on the engine while he was trying to attach a hose. The Vigilant Fire and Cumberland Valley Fire companies answered the alarm.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Pinola Road Buildings Burn

On May 17, 1979 in the evening hours firemen from four companies were alerted to a fire on the Pinola Road, Shippensburg R.D. 3. Firefighters arrived to find a workshop and chick shed well involved. A damage estimate and cause were not available. The West End Fire and Rescue, Vigilant Hose and Cumberland Valley Hose companies answered the alarm.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Hunting Cabin Destroyed In Early Morning Fire

On May 16, 1962 at 3:30 a.m. the Vigilant Hose Company was sent t the Locust Inn on Shippensburg R.R. 2 for a cabin fire after a neighbor spotted flames coming from the building and called the Shippensburg radio room. When firemen arrived the building was well involved and had extended to the mountain. Efforts were made to stop the spread of fire and protect a nearby garage. The cause was undetermined and a dollar loss was not available. The Vigilant’s returned to quarters about 4:45 a.m.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

KGD-556 Begins Broadcasting

On Sunday May 15, 1955 the Cumberland County civil defense radio network was placed into service. The aerial was placed on the municipal building (Vigilant fire station) the day before. Three 60-watt stations cover Cumberland County, the one in Shippensburg and one in the county jail at Carlisle and the West Shore police headquarters. Seventy trucks, ambulances and cars belonging to Cumberland County fire fighting units were equipped with 30 watt sending and receiving radios. In Shippensburg two fire trucks and both ambulances of the Cumberland Valley Hose were equipped and the ladder truck of the Vigilant Hose was equipped with radios. Other units covered by Shippensburg’s station included two pieces from the Newville Fire Company and one from Centerville.

The Shippensburg station was to be manned 24 hours a day by members of the Shippensburg police force. The FCC certified patrolmen as operators of the local station.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Fight For Motorization

May 14, 1919 after trying in previous years to go motorized in late May the Vigilant Hose Company announced that they want a motorized fire engine and have established a committee. The company planned to launch a fund drive to purchase a rig. At the June Council session a delegation from the Vigilant’s made a request for motorized fire apparatus. With no progress the Vigilant Hose and Cumberland Valley Hose companies both presented their cases for motorization at the August council session. Over the next several months American LaFrance visited Shippensburg and the local News Papers took up the cause of getting the firemen motorized equipment. By October Council set dates to visit Dillsburg, York and Carlisle for the purpose of inspecting their fire apparatus. No further action was taken by Council until there March 1920 session when they introduced an ordinance to purchase an American LaFrance rotary gear pumper and a Ford chemical wagon. In Councils May 1920 session the ordinance was finally passed to purchase two pieces of motorized fire apparatus for the borough companies. In July Council voted as to where to place the apparatus with the ALF pumper going to the C.V.’s and the Ford chemical going to the Vigilant’s. This started another riff between the Vigilant’s and Council, which will be covered, in a different post. On September 11, 1920 the American LaFrance combination chemical and hose car mounted on a Ford 1-ton chassis arrived in Shippensburg. On November 8, 1920 the American LaFrance “Junior” pumper arrived in Shippensburg finally giving the two companies a motorized piece of equipment.

There has been major incidents to occur on this day but this is an entry that needed to made someplace and the best place seemed like the beginning.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Wash House Destroyed, House Saved

On May 13, 1946 at 7:30 a.m. firemen were sent to the Ritner Highway, one mile north of town for a wash house fire. A hot fire in the fireplace used to heat water started the fire. The wash house was destroyed and a corner of the house was scorched. Damages were estimated at $500. The Vigilant Hose Company battled the blaze.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Two-Alarm Fire Damages Chambersburg House

On May 12, 2006 at 10:49 p.m., a Company 1 box was alerted to a house for at 352 West Burkhart Avenue, Chambersburg. A two-alarm fire that started on the back porch and extended to the second floor caused extensive damage to both sides of a duplex. Approximately 30 firefighters from five companies battled the blaze. A cause and dollar loss was not reported. The West End Fire and Rescue Company assisted at the scene.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Fire Guts Lurgan Twp. Home

On May 11, 1990 at 8:36 p.m. a Lurgan Township box was struck for a fire at 10,348 Otterbein School Road. When firefighter arrived the first floor was well involved and rapidly extending to the second floor in the two story stone farmhouse. Firefighters from six companies battled the suspicious fire. Several firefighters were injured; one was transported to Chambersburg Hospital. A damage estimate was not available. The Vigilant Hose, Cumberland Valley Hose and West End Fire and Rescue companies assisted at the scene.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Arson Fire Destroys Barn In Pleasant Hall

On May 10, 1987 at 8:39 p.m. a Pleasant Hall firefighter was emptying trash when he spotted a barn fire to the rear of the station. Firefighters from seven companies were on the scene quickly and extinguished the blaze but not before it caused considerable damage. One firefighter was injured and treated at Chambersburg Hospital and released. Firefighters left the scene at 10:19 p.m. A damage estimate was not available. This was one of a string of arson fires in the area in a few week time period. The Vigilant Hose Company and the West End Fire and Rescue companies assisted at the scene.

This photograph ended up having a greater significance later in the year, does any one remember what that was?

Friday, May 9, 2008

Fire Kills 700 Chickens

On May 9, 1928 in the late morning hours, the cry of fire was heard in Jacksonville. A brooder coal stove started a fire that destroyed a brooder and chicken house, 700 chickens were killed in the fire. A small frame building was also destroyed and the side of the house was scorched. Citizens formed a bucket brigade and were able to save surrounding buildings. Damages were estimated at $1,000. The Cumberland Valley Hose Company answered the alarm.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Hayes Saw And Planing Mill Destroyed In Large Fire

On May 8, 1875 around 5:00 p.m. firemen were aroused by the cry of fire. It was soon realized that the location of the fire was the large saw and planing mill belonging to Dr. D.D. Hayes located at the corner of Railroad and Orange Street, Shippensburg.

When firemen arrived the fire was in the middle and south side of the building. The fire did not spread beyond the building of origin initially because the roof was made mostly of gravel. Many of the cellars on the east side of Railroad Street were filled with water so the Vigilant Fire Company's engine was soon placed in service drafting from them, and placing three lines on the fire. The Cumberland Valley Fire Company's engine was taken to Orange Street and a line was placed in service there. The firemen soon realized that they could not extinguish the large fire and attempts were made to protect the nearby buildings. The intense heat was to much for the surrounding buildings and soon a number of buildings opposite the mill were ablaze. On Orange Street a one-story structure used for storing finished work was burning, on Railroad Street four dwellings were soon ablaze, including those owned by Judge Ruby and Dr. Stewart. The Vigilant engine after exhausting the water in the cellars and wells on Railroad Street was moved to the Branch and pumped a strong uninterrupted stream until the arrival of the Chambersburg steamer. A telegraph was sent to Chambersburg and the fire department was soon loading a train, the train was delayed but still made it to Shippensburg in time to help the effort. The Chambersburg steamer was placed on Orange Street at the Branch stream and soon a heavy stream of water from it was being played on the fire. The Cumberland boys after emptying the wells on Orange Street moved their engine to the C.V. Railroad water tank and flowed water there until the tank was drained. The Shippensburg News reported that the brakes were fully manned, and at no time was there a lack of willing hands and strong arms to keep the engines working.

During the blaze borough authorities requested the hotel and saloon keepers to close their bars for the evening to keep the rowdyism down. One Cumberland Valley fireman was injured when he got caught between the brakes and platform of the engine. In Carlisle the Court House bell was rung alerting firemen to the incident. The apparatus was readied and the Empire Hook and Ladder Company was placed on a car and an engine from the South Mountain R.R. was hooked up to transport them to the fire, but their services were not needed.

Damages were estimated in excess $40,000, a very large sum of money for 1875, could you imagine what that would amount to today. Just think of the amount of alarms we would have gone to and the quantity of fire apparatus, remember this was worked with two hand engines, a steamer, two hose reels and possibly a hose carriage.

I don't like to go to many days without a photograph on my post and they are just hard to come by so for today I will post one of the Vigilant ribbons I have in my collection.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Arson Fire Destroys Vacant House

On May 7, 1990 at 3:53 a.m. firefighters were alerted to a house fire on the Britton Road, Southampton Twp. Cumberland County. When firefighters arrived they found a vacant house well involved in fire. Approximately 50 firefighters from six companies battled the blaze that completely destroyed the 2-1/2-story frame house. Damages were estimated at $9,500. The cause of the fire was listed as arson. The Vigilant Hose, Cumberland Valley Hose and West End Fire and Rescue companies operated at the scene.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Fire Destroys Garage And Car

On May 6, 1943 at 4:15 p.m. an alarm of fire was sounded for Seneca Street and Jones Alley (rear of West King Street). Firemen arrived to find a three-car garage and car involved in flames. The extremely dense smoke hampered firefighting efforts. Firemen had the blaze under control quickly but not before it destroyed the car and badly damaged the garage. Damages were estimated at $1,500, a cause was not listed. The Vigilant Hose and Cumberland Valley Hose companies answered the call.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Scotland Fire Company To Get New Building

In the Friday May 5, 1933 edition of The News Chronicle it was reported that the Scotland Fire Company was building a new fire hall and community building. The main hall to be 60 feet, 4 inches long and 34 feet and 4 inches wide and equipped with a hard floor when finished. The main hall to used for a gymnasium, community meetings, church suppers and others things. There will also be an annex to the building to be used as a kitchen and for holding township elections and to store the chemical fire engine when not in use.

The building was being build with concrete blocks and steel. It was located almost at the outskirts of town along the Fayetteville Pike. When finished the building would cost approximately $4,000.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Jennie Cameron

The Jennie Cameron was a four-wheel hose carriage that was purchased by town council from the Hope Fire Company, Harrisburg, Pa. for the Vigilant Fire Company in August 1877. To tell the story of the Jennie Cameron I need to start in Harrisburg in 1866.

A the soldiers monument fair, September 1866, held at the State Capitol a number of fund raising events were held to help fund the erection of a monument. I could go into greater detail on the monument its location and the reason for it but I will try and keep the information centered on the rig itself. One of the events held by the committee was a polling, or purchasing of votes by the seven different fire companies of the city.

The prize for the company gathering the majority of the votes was a hose reel. The reel was a gift of Mrs. Virginia “Jennie” Cameron MacVeagh, the daughter of Simon Cameron, President Lincoln’s first Secretary of War. The carriage was awarded to the Hope Engine Company No. 2, which after the votes were tallied garnered 548 votes.

The Button Company of Seneca Falls, N.Y, built the hose carriage. As stated in the Harrisburg Telegraph the carriage was handsome in design and elegant in its ornamentation. The unit was built as a parade carriage, painted white and was valued at $700. On April 18, 1867 the Hope took possession of the rig.

In February 1877 the Hope moved to give the trustees the power to sell the Jennie Cameron. In April of the same year the company agreed to sell the carriage for $400. In May a committee of firemen from Shippensburg traveled to Harrisburg to look over the rig. In June town council offered the Hope $300 for the rig, they were informed that the price was $400 and they would go no lower. In August the sale was completed and on August 4, 1877 the Vigilant’s took possession of the carriage.

There are many stories about the Jennie Cameron from it being shipped down the valley during the railroad riots to the bells that adorned it; all can be read at the Pennsylvania National Fire Museum in Harrisburg. All are probably true stories but they apply to two different carriages. When the Jennie Cameron was placed in the museum and the history boards placed behind it we believed that it was the rig the Hope won in 1867. But after research by David Houseal and myself it was determined that the rig in the museum is not the original Jennie Cameron but a rig purchased in 1858 and that the Jennie Cameron had been sold to Shippensburg.

Because the paper never mentioned the rig by name or of council or the company selling a carriage of this type it is not known when the Vigilant’s stopped using it or what its final outcome was. Unfortunately the Vigilant’s no longer have their minutes from this time period. There is only two know photographs of the rig, one a stereoscope view taken July 4, 1876 in front of the Hope and the other a post card from the 1889 Pennsylvania Sate Convention held in Carlisle. Because of this card we know the Vigilant’s still had the carriage in September 1889. In December 1908 the Vigilant’s got a new hose wagon. They may have used the rig up until then but I doubt they used the rig after this.

If you have never been to the Museum make it a point to stop sometime. The carriage on display (Jennie Cameron 1858) there is much like the one the Vigilant’s used. The building is beautiful and the artifacts are second to none.

If you click on the photographs they will get larger. The quality is not the best but that is what we have and it is better than no photographs. In the post card the Jennie Cameron is in the center of the picture to the left of the steamer.

I guess I failed to point out that no major incident occurred on this date, unless it was last year and I have not entered that information yet.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

P&R Engine Drops A Spark On Roof Causing Fire

On May 3, 1909 at 11:45 a.m. a passing Philadelphia and Reading Railroad dropped a spark on the roof of a house in the area of the P&R freight yard on Seneca Street. The strong winds along with the construction of the nearly 100-year-old house spread the fire rapidly. Both hose companies were on the seen quickly and had three streams of water playing on the fire. The second floor and attic were destroyed. A damage estimate was not available. The Vigilant Hose and Cumberland Valley Hose companies battled the blaze.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Bank Barn And Outbuildings Burn Near Mowersville

On May 2, 1951 at 3:30 p.m. while working the fields, Mr. Beam and his son spotted flames shooting from the roof of their barn. The younger Beam ran to the barn where he opened the doors to free the cows and pulled two pigs out of the pen buy their ears, burning his arms in the process. A passing Cumberland Valley Cooperative truck went to the Mowersville store and called firemen.

When the Vigilant hosemen arrived they obtained water from a pond on the farm and fought the blaze for several hours. Besides the barn a milk house, wagon shed, chicken house and pigpen along with four heifers were lost in the fire. Also lost was five tons of straw, a half-ton of fertilizer and a quantity of hay. Damages were estimated at $20,000. A cause was not available. The Vigilant Hose Company answered the alarm. They were called back later in the evening to extinguish burning embers.

The photograph today was sent to me by Kevin Nehf. It is the Baltimore Road fire that occurred on April 23, 1982 and appeared in the Shippensburg News Chronicle. Here is a link to the posting

Thursday, May 1, 2008

3 Hustontown Firefighter’s Die In Well

On May 1, 1990 at 5:30 p.m. members of the Hustontown Volunteer Fire Company in Fulton County were out performing a service call. They were requested to pump out a covered unused well that was emitting a foul odor.

When the pump was placed at the top of the well it was not able to draft water from the well so two firefighters took the pump down into the well and started it. After about 15 minutes one of the firefighters complained that he was starting to feel sick. A firefighter entered the well in an attempt to rescue the men but was unable to do so. Another firefighter descended the ladder and tied a rope around one of the unconscious firefighters. Other firefighters entered the well in an attempt to rescue their brothers but only one made it out alive. Thomas Lane, 39, James Chestnut Jr. 20, and Richard Hershey, 40 perished in the well. It was later determined that all three died from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Additional resources were requested at 7:30 p.m. including the Vigilant Hose Company for the Shippensburg Area Vertical Extrication and Search Team (S.A.V.E.S. Team) with 14 men. The team under the direction of Larry Kerns set up a haul system and monitored the atmosphere in the 38-foot deep well. Danny Byers and Jim Pickings were lowered through the four-foot opening. Within five minutes Byers located the victim about four to five feet below the water with a pike pole. A harness was attached to the victim and he was brought to the surface.

In all firefighters from more than a dozen companies were on the scene along with Life Flight helicopter from Geisinger Medical Center, two medic units and a scuba team from Huntington County. About two-dozen people were treated at a local hospital.

The three firefighters were buried a few days later with full fire department honors.