On this day. . .December 1st
- Harrisburg, Pa.
1896-At 7:00 p.m. Box 31 at Third and Reily came in for a fire at 1427-29 N.
Front St. The fire started in the cellar of 1429 and swept up through the
partitions to the attic where it spread to 1427 causing much damage in the upper
floors. The weather was bitter cold. One firemen hurt. 1427 owned and
occupied by the five Dock sisters. 1429 owned and occupied by Howard F. Martin and
family. The fire was caused by an overheated furnace. Both parties were
insured and the loss estimated at $9,000. The work (or more like the lack of) and
operations of the fire department were strongly criticized publicly. Some
valuable items were even stolen from 1427. Water damage was very heavy. The
local newspapers flared headlines of inefficiency, insubordination to officers
and disorganization of the fire department.
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- Harrisburg, Pa.
1988-At 0227 hrs. Arson fire set in a pile of wood in the second floor rear
bedroom of a three story frame vacant at 1418 N. Sixth St. Fire knocked
down with two and a half gallon “can”. Christopher Lange, 23, also known as
Kris Kringle, who listed his address as the Bethesda Mission, 611 Reily St.
was arrested on charges of arson for the above fire and probably most of the
fires in the previous two weeks. He was caught at the phone booth at Sixth and
Reily with dye all over him that the arson investigators placed at 1418-20 N.
6th. B Platoon working. Later that day. . . at 1941 hrs. 562 Forrest St.
Vacant two story frame building, well involved on arrival. The
building was gutted. Suspected arson but obviously not related to the Kris
Kringle fires. Fire under control at 2023 and A Platoon first alarm companies
were out almost two hours. Loss $5,000. Two lines pulled. Less then one hour
from cleaning up this job at 2238 hrs. an automatic fire alarm(AFA) backed up by
a phone call came in for the Jackson Building at 1401 N. 6th St. Apt
811J.(Highrise for the elderly) Fire caused by careless smoking gutted the
apartment. Heavy smoke and smoke damage to floors 8 thru 13. Water damage to floors 8
and 7. Numerous doors damaged in entry. Fire was under control at 2338 and
the companies were out nearly four hours. Three alarms were struck. Fire was
showing out the rear windows on arrival. Two hand lines hooked to standpipes
used. Over 100 persons rescued/ evacuated from upper floors. A Platoon did a
highly commendable job at this fire. HPD Officer Stephen Blasco rescued from
the 13th floor unconscious due to smoke inhalation. Eight residents taken to
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- Harrisburg, Pa.
1904-At 11:50 a.m. a phone call was made from the Central Iron and Steel Company plant on Front Street south of Dock (The plant was a very large sprawling steel concern and today would have covered the area south of Interstate 83 between the river and the railroad stretching for a mile or more south.) to the Paxton Engine No. 6’s quarters reporting a shed on fire. Somehow the carriage fell behind the engine responding(the carriage was in front of the engine in the single bay firehouse) and in the driver’s zeal to try and pass the steamer at a full gallop the carriage upset at Race and Hanna Streets. The rig was pinned to a telegraph pole. Four firemen riding the rig were injured slightly when they were thrown to the street. The right front wheel of the carriage was damaged. No reference was made as to what ever happened to the shed on fire.
1967-At 9:10 a.m. as fire was rolling up the interior stairway after it started in the basement of 317 Dauphin Street, occupants were racing to the rear door of the Reily firehouse and also to Fourth and Kelker to hook Box 261. Arriving quickly, the members of Engine 7 and Ladder 3 had their work cut out for them. The row of nine three story frame houses sat cata-corner from the lot at the rear of the Reily(today this would be the rear of the fire museum’s parking lot). No. 317 was heavily damaged with mostly water damage to 315 and 319 Dauphin in the middle of this row of three story frame occupied houses. Snow, ice, and cold weather hampered firemen. A general alarm(3-3) was sounded at 9:21 mainly do to no volunteer turnout. Three persons were left homeless. Overall loss was $6400. Cause of the fire was listed as an overheated furnace.
- 1930-At about ten minutes past ten o’clock on this cold night, a loud explosion rocked S. Cameron Street . A large gas leak in a Harrisburg Gas Co. six inch high pressure line in the one thousand block of S. Cameron St.(just north of Sycamore) was apparently ignited by a hot exhaust on a passing auto and caused a gas explosion that shot flames as high as telephone poles. Box 223 at Cameron and Hemlock was “hooked” at 10:12 p.m. Seeing the severity of the situation Fire Chief Millard Tawney struck the second alarm from the box upon his arrival. The explosion heavily damaged the two and a half story frame house at 1036 S. Cameron and caused fire damage in the cellars of 1034 and 1038. Fire Chief Tawney experienced great difficulty getting the employees of the gas company to shut off the mains until he threatened them with arrest. It took nearly an hour to shut off the gas. Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Sednek of 1036 S. Cameron were burned about the hands and face but only Mr. Sednek was taken to the Harrisburg Hospital . Firemen used seven hoselines and dumped three truckloads of sand from the Downey Coal Company on the street but failed to extinguish the fire until the gas was shut off. Overall damage estimated at $5,000.
- 1913-Harrisburg changed from the old and antiquated “bi-cameral” form of government to the “commission” form of government. Under the bi-cameral form, the city elected a Mayor, a Select and Common Councils.(terms ?) There were one Selectman and two Commoners elected from each of eleven wards. The system had become nearly unworkable. Under the new commission form, the Mayor is elected to a four year term and four Commissioners elected to two year terms. Each would head a “Department.” The five departments were (individuals first elected): Public Affairs to which the Mayor John K. Royal was in charge of; Accounts and Finance(William L. Gorgas); Public Safety(Harry F. Bowman); Streets and Public Improvements(William H. Lynch); and Parks and Public Property (M. Harvey Taylor). The original legislation known as the Clark Act was signed by Governor Tener on June 27th. There were originally twenty-one Third class cities affected. During the month from the election to this date of taking effect, several clarifications of the act were ironed out. One involved the Fire Department. It was argued that the Department of Parks and Public Property had control of ALL city property, which was all of the fire department except the personnel, and operations which should come under the Department of Public Safety. Eventually it was agreed that the entire Fire Department come under the direction of Parks and Public Property. This is also the birth date for the Harrisburg Bureau of Fire. A “Bureau” was an entity of a “Department.” But from then on both the names Harrisburg Bureau of Fire and Harrisburg Fire Department have been used interchangeably although “Bureau” is probably more correct. The Commissioner in charge of Parks and Public Property would be known unofficially as the Fire Commissioner, although some in later years took the title very seriously. Therefore Harrisburg ’s first Fire Commissioner was M. Harvey Taylor. Taylor ’s first business conducted for the Fire Bureau was authorizing an auction to sell nine older fire horses and purchase new ones on December 16th. Previously with the bi-cameral form of government, individual ordinances had to be passed several readings by both Councils to buy even one horse.
- 1903-Since the disastrous Boll Brothers fire of October 12, 1903 destroyed part of the Mulberry Street bridge, any alarm in the Hill district would have a substantial delay in response of the downtown companies having to walk their horses up Market Street hill. This situation languished long enough that it became the impetus to form the Allison Hook and Ladder Company. At 5:45 p.m. this day Box 34 at Sixteenth and Derry rang out on the firehouse bells. The fire was for an overheated stove that set fire to a kitchen partition at the home of August Sanders, 1516 Drummond Street . Due to construction work on Derry Street , the Mt. Pleasant Engine No. 8 was slow in arriving and had a fully involved kitchen when they rounded Derry onto S. Fifteenth and edged into narrow Drummond. Realizing the No. 8 firemen would have to go it alone for awhile, they went to work with gusto and held the fire to the kitchen that was gutted. The remainder of the house was damaged by smoke and water. Loss was in excess of $175. The Friendship Engine No. 1 steamer’s three horse team balked on Market Street hill and refused to go up until an additional team of horses were hitched up and the five horses than dragged the heavy steamer the rest of the way to Thirteenth Street . (Oh, if only there was such a thing as a time machine!)
- 1869- 2:30 p.m. Third and Market Streets. Attic burned out and roof badly damaged at the C.S. Roshon photographic establishment. The fire started in the dark room when a bottle of collodial exploded. The shop of Annie Scott, seamstress, was damaged by water. No loss was given. The overall condition of the leather hose of the department was very poor. One of the seven companies was literally inoperative because of this as well as hampering operations somewhat. (Department consisted of five engine companies all with steamers, one hose and one truck company, all hand pulled apparatus)