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Fire Fiend Alights at Goldsboro

Fires occur all too often, whether they are accidental or deliberately set. Even with the immediate communications and speedy response today, fires are still scary. Just think how frustrating the wait for the arrival of the firefighting apparatus was 130 years ago, such as at the scene described below, from the December 24, 1878 York Gazette.

THE FIRE FIEND AT GOLDSBORO.–Early on Saturday morning, a fire broke out in the confectionery store of Mr. Bare, in a building owned by Wm. Willis, cabinet maker, and spread until three buildings belonging to Mr. Willis were consumed, as well as two belonging to C. F. Reehling, storekeeper and tobacconist, and one owned by J. H. Markel, tinner. Aid was summoned from Harrisburg and York, and the Citizen steamer started from the former place. The Vigilant was dispatched from York, arriving there on a special train, after a run of twenty minutes, in less than an hour after the alarm was sounded, which was about half past four.–Shortly afterwards she was in operation.
The company, about twenty in number, after a breakfast furnished by the Goldsboro people, returned to York about half past ten the same morning. The Citizen company arrived too late to be of service with their steamer, but assisted otherwise.
The total loss is about $25,000, something like half of which is covered by insurance in foreign companies. A policy of Mr. Reehling of $4,000 on personal property expired some time previous to the fire and was not renewed. Many of his goods and much of his furniture, however, were saved, as well as that of others. George Markley, cigar-box manufacturer, lost all his lumber. Most of Mr. Markel’s stock was lost. Just how the fire originated is not known. It is to be hoped that with the amount of the insurance, the parties damaged will be able to pull through without serious embarrassment.”
Even though the item says that the origin of the fire was not known, it seems like “fire fiend” indicates that it might have been arson. $4,000 was quite a sum in 1878–Mr. Reehling must have been very upset that he hadn’t renewed his insurance policy. I’m not sure what “foreign companies” means–perhaps just insurers from out of the area, not abroad.
Click the links below to read more about York County fires and firefighting.
Preventable Hanover fires.
York County forest fires.
Jail inmates alarmed by fire.
Woman, cow and horses saved.
Cigars smoking in Red Lion.
Fire company builds in street.