Universal York

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York Woman, Cow, and Horses Saved from Fire

We often hear of terrible fires that could have had even worse consequences if it were not for extraordinary ordinary people, and well as brave firefighters, risking themselves to save other humans as well as animals. The same held true in the past.
There was an ever-present danger of fire 150 years ago. Homes were heated and cooking was done in fireplaces and stoves with flames or smoldering coals. Arson seemed also to be a popular crime. In the winter of 1857 the Gazette reports on a five-structure fire and how horses were saved by a not very well clad rescuer:

“Another Fire–Two Houses and Three Stables Consumed.
A few minutes before nine o’clock on Thursday night, fire was discovered in the stable of John L. Getz, occupied by William Spangler, and situated at the plank road [Prospect Street, probably on the south side], a few rods east of Queen Street. At much risk, Mr. Getz and his son John succeeded in getting Mr. Spangler’s cow safely out of the stable, but not without the former person getting a cheek and hand burned. Hay and straw constituted the principal contents of the building.
Adjoining this stable, on the west, there stood a one-story frame double house, one part only being occupied, by a German, named Jacob Miller. This man’s wife lay sick in the house, and it is said she was carried out of bed. All the contents of the house were taken out.”
Getz lost another large frame stable, full of wheat and corn and other items, which the article mentions were not insured. The account continues:
“One other stable burnt, the property of William Heffner, closely adjoining on the south side the stable in which the conflagration commenced. In Mr. Hs stable there were five valuable horses for medical treatment, two of which belonged to Mr. P.A. Small. In the removal of these horses Mr. Heffner performed an astonishing feat. He ran to his stable, in a state of nakedness, and strange to say, unaided he got them all out, though the fire was almost intolerable by the time the last horse was saved.”
The article continues to relate the Mr. Heffner had no insurance and lost four or five tons of hay, some straw and feed, and six chickens that were in the stable. Arson was suspected, but the neighborhood was very relived that the chickens were the only casualties. Courageous individuals saved Mrs. Miller, Spangler’s cow, and Heffner’s horses.
Click here to read about a spectacular fire in Red Lion fifty years later.
Click here to read about a fire at the new county jail.
Click here to read about 1908 Hanover fires.

And click here to read about York County forest fires in 1928.