York Town Square

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Fires & firefighters Archives

Jubal Early’s Confederates burned Chambersburg, Pa., 150 years ago this week. ‘It’s hard to imagine the destruction that followed the burning of Chambersburg by Confederate troops on July 30, 1864. The fire destroyed 550 structures, left 2,000 people homeless and resulted in more than $750,000 in lost property,’ the Public Opinion in Chambersburg wrote in: The Burning of Chambersburg: 150 years later. A year earlier, Early’s men occupied York, Pa., about 50 miles to the East.

York’s Vigilant fire company, captured here in this Picturing York before-and-after slider, has done heroic work for years. But there was a moment in the late 1800s when townspeople bailed out the fire company. Yorkblogger June Lloyd told about the response to a fire in a box car filled with apples and beans: ‘I guess it is kind of embarrassing if your horse-drawn fire engine runs away, is stopped by a collision with your other engine and has to be people-drawn to the fire. That’s what happened to York’s Vigilant Fire Co. in the late 1800s.’ June provided a newspaper account with her 2011 post that led with: ‘Here was a thriller!’

This elevated scene shows York County, Pa., firefighters working to douse a three-alarm fire. From this vantage point, several building appear in the horizon. So here’s the question: What are we seeing in the background?

This scene is being replayed thousands of time around York County, Pa., and the region after this week’s storm downed countless tree and has left thousands still without power. Wouldn’t you know it. This storm, the most damaging of the series this winter, is the 13th.

A pica pole marks the spot in a snowstorm. This represents a new role for an old rule. The metal ruler was part of the stuff most newspaper journalists had in and around their desks in the pre-computer days when you did page production manually. Some are still around the YDR newsroom, obviously, but they’re largely unused. Largely. That is, except when deployed in the measuring of snow.

History mystery scene: Can you ID this historic, 19th-century building whose doors provide a frame for this photograph in York, Pa.. See answer below. Meanwhile, residents battled a storm that dumped 6 to 10 inches of snow into York County and beyond. Several numbers grew out of coverage. York City has about 100 miles of streets to plow. About 40 cars were towed in York in violation of the snow emergency. The cost of releasing a towed car is $105 And PennDOT has a convoy of 74 trucks to cover state roads in York County.

This has been a favorite York County, Pa., rendering for years, the Laurel and Rex fire house. I didn’t know it originally was commissioned as a Christmas card. Columnist Gordon Freireich brought that to light in a recent York Sunday News column. Howard Marshall Advertising commissioned the drawing by York artist Cliff Satterthwaite. Gordon’s column revealed the message inside the card: ‘The Laurel And Rex Fire House is one of York’s genuine architectural treasures. May it be preserved for all time. We commissioned the painting by Clifford Satterthwaite to dramatize the uniqueness of the building’s design and style, and to recreate the excitement of olden days when the horses charged forth onto Duke Street.’ A couple of years ago, York fire officials eyed alternatives for the Laurel/Rex. But the move to a new city hall and renovation of the then-city hall into a police station came first. So, yes, may the Laurel and Rex be preserved for all time.

You hate to see any building go up, but this fire took down a 160-year-old church in Lineboro, just south of the Mason-Dixon Line in Maryland. Area churches have extended a helping hand to the two congregations who worshipped at Lazarus Union Church. The building almost stood in York County, only a short distance into Maryland. It was the closest union church to York County’s last remaining house of worship. Union churches, common in the region until demergers began in the past 50 or more year, are marked by two congregations that meet in the same building. Down in Lineboro, the congregations – United Church of Christ and Lutheran – hope to rebuild.

This rendering shows the replacement for the Springettsbury Fire Hall, gathering place for all kind of events for 50 years. This new building is designed as the home of the York, Pa., Area United Fire and Rescue and the Springettsbury Volunteer Fire Company The then-empty lot on Commons Drive in Springettsbury Township is the new home for the $3.8 million fire station.