Two Firemen Killed by Explosion
Two members of the William Catneron Engine Co. No. 1 of Lewisburg Pa., were killed, and twenty-four other firemen were injured, when an explosion blew the wall out of a building in which they were operating on a fire.
The fire started in the shipping room of the C. Dreisbaeh & Son’s Hardware Company. Upon its discovery the three skylights over the room were opened and hole cut in the root of a small two-story section of the warehouse adjoining it. Four hose streams were directed through these openings front the roof of the warehouse. Another hose line was taken through the warehouse to the door of the shipping room but the men were soon driven back from this position by a blast of heat. They closed the lire door before leaving and the fire did not communicate to this part of the building.
Two hose lines were also advanced through the front of the store toward the shipping room, but this could not be directed on the fire because of a partition and they were withdrawn.
At this point, it was apparent that the fire was making headway and a call was sent for aid to Milton, four miles away. The Milton Fire Department responded with three pumpers and a hose truck.
The fire continued to spread, and the men operating over the shipping, ventilated two sides of the building facing them, by breaking the windows with their hose streams. The windows on the first floor were covered with heavy shutters. An attempt was being made to open one of these windows when an explosion occurred which blew the wall out on the firemen working there. Two of the men were completely buried, one was found immediately with the shutter over him which protected him somewhat. He was dug from the pile and died in the hospital. The other was instantly killed by the avalanche of brick and mortar. Twenty-four other firemen were injured by the shower of bricks and glass. The force of the explosion was so great that store windows a block away were shattered and flying bricks loosened bricks in a building across the street.
Immediately after the explosion, the fire started to spread to the main part of the building. At this point, Mifflinburg, ten miles away, was requested to send a pumper and extra men to fill the ranks depleted by injuries. Eleven streams were playing on the fire at this time. This number was cut to seven streams with larger tips and a threeway deluge set was placed in operation.
The fire was under control by 9 a. m., and the last of the out-of-town companies left the scene at noon. The Lewisburg firemen continued to pour water on the ruins until 3 a. m., the next day. The borough water system was used to supply four pumpers while two other pumpers drafted water from Bull Run two blocks away. These hook-ups were made according to a pre-arranged plan which the Lewisburg hire Department has for all large buildings within the borough. Approximately 6,500 feet of 2 1/2-inch hose was laid. Although the entire equipment of the Lewisburg Fire Department was used, not one piece of equipment of any kind failed during the fire.
An investigation made to discover the cause of the fire or the explosion met without success.