On this day. . .February 1st
- 1899-At 2:45 p.m. the Washington Hose No. 4 wagon was dispatched to the rear
of 121 Walnut Street. This was a two and a half story brick building
occupied by the German Mannerchor Club whose clubrooms occupied the second floor.
The stable of Dr. Rahter occupied the ground floor. Fire was caused by a
leaking oil stove in the stable. Upon arrival, the Washington Company was
confronted with heavy smoke conditions. Using forcible entry they found the fire
gaining headway and promptly sounded Box 112 at Second and Strawberry on
Market Square. Some woodwork at the rear and flooring was damaged. A quantity of
hay and straw was destroyed. Mannerchor lost a piano valued at $300. Four
horses and all vehicles of Dr. Rahter were saved. No overall loss was given
but a figure of $550 was published in the local papers. Building was owned by
the Haly estate. Weather was very cold.
Anybody recognize where this address is today?
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- Harrisburg. . .
1905-The tolling of the three fire department tower bells with electric strikers suddenly shook the bitter cold still early morning silence of a slumbering city. Box 61 at Second and Cranberry registered on firehouse gongs at 1:55 a.m. Firemen in he warm firehouses slid poles and grabbed their gum gear, hitched their horses and rolled toward the scene of what would be a busy night. Arriving companies were quickly pointed to the Meily Apartments on the northwest corner of Second and Locust. The address was 200 N. Second Street(today this is home to Fisaga’s in the heart of “Restaurant Row”) A fire that had originated in the restaurant of Joseph H. Gaitor on the first floor, quickly spread upward through a rear partition to the roof of the three story brick building. Upon entering the roof and loft it mushroomed. The rear stairway and hallways acted as open flues, greatly accelerating the progress of the fire. Confronting a rapidly moving fire with a building full of people in the apartments on the second and third floors, Fire Chief George Lutz struck the general alarm signal (2-2-2) at 2:05 a.m. The firemen on the first alarm made many spectacular rescues of residents and guests in their nightclothes over ladders. That no lives were lost was considered a miracle as the city’s firefighters and patrolmen were highly commended for their work. As the fire was well under way when discovered, all three floors were gutted before it was brought under control. Almost all personal possessions of the occupants were lost. The weather was very cold and firemen were greatly hampered by icing conditions. Most all occupants were given shelter at the YMCA across Locust Street. Overall loss was estimated in excess of $8,500. The Hope Engine No. 2 was sent back to wet down the debris at 10:30 a.m. and again at 5:53 p.m.
Interestingly enough, exactly two years later(1907) almost to the minute, Box 4 at Third and Market Streets was struck at 1:52 a.m. for what would culminate in become Harrisburg's worst fire. During the morning hours, fire consumed the Opera House at Third and Walnut Streets(today this is the site of Strawberry Square) jumped Third and took out buildings on Third and also Walnut Streets. Today is the 100th anniversary of this devastating fire. In the next issue of Fire Museum News due out now, members of the Fire Museum will have the pleasure of reading the late Robert M. Houseal, Jr's tale of this fire that he penned in 1969. The Fire Museum News comes out bi-monthly and is included in the cost of a membership to the museum. It always has a lengthy historical article on a variety of fire subjects. If you are interested in becoming a member, please stop by and pick up an application or send me an inquiry and I will gladly forward you an app.
1898-Box 5 at State and Cowden Streets was sounded at 6:10 p.m. for 511 Filbert Street, the frame dwelling of Mrs. Natalie Stiles. The second floor was gutted and the first floor badly damaged by water. Two different hydrant lines had been connected and firemen had the fire under control when the water was shut down to connect the Hope Engine No. 2 and Good Will Engine No. 7 steamers respectively. The fire again gained headway this time communicating to 509 and 513 Filbert. The latter was occupied by the Jackson family and suffered some damage. The fire was blamed on a carelessly constructed flue at 511 through which sparks from a fresh fire ignited the frame studding. Loss was estimated at $500 overall. Very cold and windy.(Today’s location would be the eastern end of the Finance Building)
- 1907-Third and Walnut Streets. Four story brick structure of the Grand Opera House Association destroyed, along with the Park Hotel on Walnut Street and numerous shops and businesses adjacent on Third Street . The blaze also jumped across Third Street and damaged in varying degrees businesses and commercial establishments and the Columbus Hotel on Third Street’s west side. The fire was first discovered in the first floor rear of the John Pyne Hat Store, 31 N. Third Street, Opera House building. It gradually spread upward through the partitions gaining rapidity as it progressed and gradually engulfing the entire Opera House building despite the energetic efforts of the firefighters. As the fire progressed in the Opera House Fireman Edward Halbert of the Hope Engine No. 2 and Theodore Davis of the Washington Hose No. 4 rescued Edward Knauer (alias John Smith) by the use of ground ladders over the Third Street awning of the Opera House, from a third story window of that building. They were later awarded medals for their bravery by the City of Harrisburg . Until it was over ten firemen were injured, the department lost 800 feet of hose and while operating at capacity the Mt. Pleasant Engine No. 8 Silsby steamer broke down at the height of the fire. Some embers were later found as far north as Broad Street . The weather was below freezing making footing for men and horses treacherous as a four inch wet snow and sleet storm was in progress at the time. Although loss estimated at times ran as high as $500,000 the final total official loss figure was placed at $198,000. The fire department operations covered a nine hour period not including later call backsBox 4 was pulled at 1:52 a.m. with Chief Garverich striking the general alarm(2-2-2) six minutes later. At 3:10 a.m. the Washington Hose 4 was sent to 209 Locust Street for a shall frame shed window sill was slightly damaged when ignited by sparks from the fire. Neighbors had the fire out using snow. At 3:15 a.m. after a conference with Fire Chief Garverich, Mayor Edward Z. Gross sent out a request for aid via the Pennsylvania Railroad telegraph to the following communities: Middletown , Mechanicsburg, Carlisle, Lancaster and York . Steelton had been contacted by telephone. The Citizens Engine No. 1 of Steelton with men and apparatus responded. From Middletown came manpower from the combined Liberty and Rescue companies. From York came the Vigilant Company with apparatus and men. The above units named all saw service. The companies with men and equipment from all the other named communities all arrived about 5:00 a.m. but it was deemed that the fire was being contained to the extent that they were not detrained but held in readiness at Sou th Third and Mulberry Streets. They were released after 7:00 a.m. as were most of the units including many of the Harrisburg companies. The following is a complete property, occupant, address and loss list of the locations involved:GRAND OPERA HOUSE BUILDING: M. Reis Players circuit, $25,000; Charles C. Champlin Stock Company, $22,000. These stores were on the first floor of the Opera House and all N. Third St. addresses: 37-Drug store of J. Wilson Hoffa(SE corner) $10,000, destroyed; 35-Grand Union Tea Co. destroyed, $10,000; 33-W.F. Paul Shoe Store, destroyed, $21,000; 31-John Pyne Hat Store, destroyed $10,000; 29-Miles Fry cigars-billiards, destroyed, $4,000; The following were to the South of the Opera House Building: 27-Harrisburg Gas Company offices, destroyed, $3,500; 25-Harrisburg Cycle & Typewriter Company, gutted, $7,500; 25-Philadelphia Dental Parlor (2nd fl) Dr. E.B. Wright, gutted, $1,000; 23- E.G. Hoover, jewelers, gutted, $5,000; 23-New Dental Systems Parlors (2nd fl.) Drs. Joseph Bell; F. Bayard Wilson, badly damaged, $500; 21-Harry C. Ross, custom tailor, damaged, $500. The following are on the west side of Third St: 46-Georg e M. Harry, cigars, tobacco (SW corner) destroyed $6,000; 44-Charles L. Schmidt, florist, destroyed, $2,000; 42-Michale L. Magaro, fruits and confection destroyed, $1,000; 40-William Reindel, barber shop, destroyed, $1,000; Bijou Dream House, theatre, damaged, $3,000 and J.W. Roshon, photographer(2nd fl.) gutted, $5,000; 32-30-28 Schleisner’s Klein, women’s clothes, damaged $500. The following were on Walnut Street : 235 Walnut, Charles C. Charles, pool parlor, damaged $1,000. Losses on buildings: Grand Opera House, (SE corner Third & Walnut) $75,000; Columbus Hotel(SW corner Third & Walnut) 229-233 Walnut St. $45,000; Park Hotel, 307 Walnut St. $20,000; Duncan Estate(40-46 N. Third), $2,500; Bijou Theatre, $6,000 Harrisburg Cycle & Typewriter $3,000; Harrisburg Gas Co. Bldg. $5,000; Security Trust Co. (36-38 N. Third-under construction) $2,500; College Block(28-34 N. third) $2,000; E.G. Hoover $2,000; United Telephone and Telegraph(225 Walnut St.) $500. Total loss on buildings $163,500.During the next few days the Hope Engine No. 2 and Washington Hose No. 4 were sent back on several recalls for flare-ups of ruins of the Opera House or Bijou Theatre.While the city and the insurance companies attempted to determine whose responsibility it was to raze the fire-weakened walls, Third Street between Walnut and Strawberry remained closed until February 9th when they were deemed safe enough to open Third Street . The next morning a wind sprang up and the walls began to quiver and Third Street was again closed in a safety measure. On Monday morning, February 11th, it was opened for good. Falling walls, downed and dangling electric wires, flying debris and tin sheeting and above all the icing conditions were among the major hazards encountered by the firemen. The following HFD personnel that suffered injuries: Firemen C. R. Karns, contusions of the back, hips and left ankle; Fireman Edward C. Walden, contusions of the body and face; Fireman George B. Ehler, body bruises and leg injuries; fireman Raymond Collins, severe leg bruises and contusions. These four firemen all belonging to the Hope Engine No. 2 were injured when the engine stream they were manning got out of control. Fireman Charles Gilchrist, Citizen Engine No. 3, severe right side contusions and badly lacerated fingers when struck by a flying piece of tin sheeting; Fireman William Meck, Citizen Engine No. 3 badly lacerated head when struck by falling glass; Fireman Harry Fry, Paxton Engine No. 6, wrist severely lacerated when struck by flying glass; Driver Frank H. Downey, Jr. Susquehanna Engine No. 9, suffered a horst bite on the right hand; Fireman Edward Gemperling, Reily Hose No. 10, rendered unconscious by falling brick; Fire Chief Charles A. Garverich, suffered a back injury when he slipped down a pair of ice covered steps on the roof of the Columbus Hotel. Even by today’s standards only one other major fire in Harrisburg history would compare in size and conflagration potential and that being the Vernon Industrial Building fire of January 23, 1990. Some historians believe that the only thing that saved Harrisburg from a major conflagration of much larger proportions on the morning of February 1, 1907 was the four inches of wet snow on the rooftops and yards of the city.
- 1901-Box 5 located at State and Cowden Streets in the Eighth Ward was struck at 1:10 a.m. Arriving companies found a small fire in an interior of a vacant two and a half story frame building at 511 North Ave(Present location would be about the west end of the Finance Building at Commonwealth Avenue and North Drive), volunteer driver Charles F. Deiker of the Friendship No. 1 was cranking in the hose reel on the carriage when he exerted a sudden twist to his body and suffered a ruptured intestine. He contracted peritonitis and died on April 19th. Deiker was a young and popular member active in company affairs who was also serving as the Select Councilman for the Third Ward. He was the second Friendship Company member to give his life in the line of duty.
- 1899-At 2:45 p.m. the Washington Hose No. 4 wagon was dispatched to the rear of 121 Walnut Street . This was a two and a half story brick building occupied by the German Mannerchor Club whose clubrooms occupied the second floor. The stable of Dr. Rahter occupied the ground floor. Fire was caused by a leaking oil stove in the stable. Upon arrival, the Washington Company was confronted with heavy smoke conditions. Using forcible entry they found the fire gaining headway and promptly sounded Box 112 at Second and Strawberry on Market Square . Some woodwork at the rear and flooring was damaged. A quantity of hay and straw was destroyed. Mannerchor lost a piano valued at $300. Four horses and all vehicles of Dr. Rahter were saved. No overall loss was given but a figure of $550 was published in the local papers. Building was owned by the Haly estate. Weather was very cold.
- Hard to believe this was 13 years ago. . .this entry was from the HFD historian, so it has only Harrisburg's involvement. I believe there were rigs from all over Central Pa there that night.1999- 0106 hrs.900 Market St, Boro of Lemoyne. West Shore Farmers Market. Large, almost one block square rambling, cut up one and two story building with apartments above the Market St. side(North) destroyed in spectacular fire. Tower 2 in service on east side of the structure with platform gun. Engine 6 special called but not used. Fire of about 4 alarm equivalent. HFD companies out 6 hours. A Platoon, mutual aid.