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On This Day (January 13th)
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Incidents for which we were dispatched (see Note 1)Hide

Fire, Gratz

Fire, Hotel Lykens
Detail >>
Jim Hoffman recalls the following: The fire occurred on a Friday night, Friday the 13th. I heard the sirens ringing and went outside to see what was going on. There was a heavy snow storm occurring at the time, with several inches of snow on the ground. The heavily falling snow made visibility very limited. I walked up the street to watch, along with my neighbors, Paul and Sid Hoffman. We stood at the corner of Main and Market Streets, next to what was then the empty lot where the old dry cleaners building had been torn down - it was not yet the grass park in front of Community Bank. I remember how quiet the streets sounded because of the heavy snow. Sirens could be heard coming from off in the distance. As we looked up Main Street, Williamstown's engine's flashing red lights slowly appeared through the densely falling snow. The fire was located in a fourth floor apartment on Market Street side of the building. It was a smoldering mattress that had somehow caught on fire and pushed a lot of smoke into the apartment and fourth floor hallway. (careless smoking perhaps?) The crew threw the blackened mattress out the window, and it landed in the snow on the sidewalk below. Because the snow was coming down so heavily, the top of the hotel could barely be seen from the street, and there was no fire or smoke visible. I remember a lot of apparatus, a lot of lights, heavy snow, limited visibility, and little or no fire. Fire apparatus from Lykens, Wiconisco, Williamstown, and I believe Elizabethville were there.
Standby, In Quarters (Box 24-3)
Detail >>
Company 22 was requested to go on standby for Company 24 while they were out on a call. The company was released by command.
Car Fire, 619 Rear North St (Box 22-1)
Detail >>
Engine-22 was dispatched to a working vehicle fire in the alley behind 619 North Street. Captain-22, on scene, confirmed working fire in the vehicle's engine compartment. Engine-22 responded with six personnel and accessed the scene from Market Street. The crew extinguished the fire, performed overhaul, then went available.
Medical Assist for lifting, 212 North Second Street (Box 22-1)
Detail >>
Company 22 dispatched class 3 to 212 North Second Street in Lykens for a lift assist. Chief 22 and Car 22 responded to the scene POV, and assisted Med-Ex with lifting a patient into their home. Chief 22 placed the box in service prior to Engine 22's response.
Accident with injury, 660 South Street (Box 22-1)
Detail >>
Engine 22 and Rescue 23 dispatched class one to 660 South Street in Lykens for a vehicle accident with injury. Chief 22 responded POV, Engine 22 went enroute with 5 and Utility 22 with 4. Engine 22 arrived on scene and found a single vehicle into a grove of trees in front on Medic chief 6's home, with the driver of the vehicle sitting with him on his front steps. The vehicle had struck the embankment near the intersection of Spruce and South streets, bounced across South Street and left the road and went into a small grove of trees where it came to rest against a tree. Chief 22 placed Rescue 23 in service. Crews started patient care and secured the vehicle. On the arrival of Medic 6 the crew assisted with patient care and transfer to their unit. The crew remained on scene until the arrival of Recovery 21 and assisted with removing the vehicle. Command then placed the box available.
AFA, 200 Kocher Lane (Box 21-5)
Detail >>
Engine 21 and Truck 22 dispatched class one to 200 Kocher Lane in Washington Township at the Walmart for an automatic fire alarm. Engine 21 responded with 5 and Truck 22 with 4. On their arrival and after investigating Command 21 placed the Truck available while they were enroute.
CO Alarm, 9207 Route 209 (Box 24-2)
Detail >>
Company 24 and Truck 22 dispatched class one to 9207 Route 209 at the Williamstown Armory for an automatic fire alarm. Tanker 24 responded with 4 and Truck 22 with 4. On arrival at a one story concrete National Guard Armory the truck staged on side D and sent a crew interior with a gas meter to check CO levels. After venting the building by opening up some exterior doors the CO levels dropped to acceptable levels and Command released the Truck.
Other Local Incidents (see Note 2)Hide

Grass Fire - Killinger, PA
Detail >>
A fire in the village of Killinger, in Upper Paxton Township, burned four to five acres of dry grass on January 13, 1959. The Millersburg fire company responded to the fire.
Other Noteworthy Incidents/Events (see Note 3)Hide

Ma'arra Burned by the Crusaders - Ma'arra, Syria
Detail >>
During the First Crusdaes, after the fall of Antioch in 1098, Raymond of Toulouse led the first contingents of Crusaders away from Antioch and towards Jerusalem. In December, the city of Ma'arra was captured and 20,000 inhabitants were killed. On January 13, 1099, the crusaders burned Ma'arra and continued their journey to capture the city of Jerusalem.
New Orleans Fire of 1830 - New Orleans, LA
Detail >>
About a year after the first reliable fire company was organized in New Orleans (Volunteer Company No. 1), a great fire occurrred. On january 1, 1830, five thousand bales of cotton were on fire at the Hart?s Cotton Press on St. Charles Street. The brave volunteers aimed a stream of water from their hand pump engine as a group of dedicated citizens rushed to aid the volunteer company.
Steamship Lexington Fire - Long Island Sound (off Eatons Neck), NY
Detail >>
The paddlewheel steamship Lexington was the fastest vessel which traveled from New York City to Boston, during 1835-1840. It departed its pier on Manhattan's East River at 4 p.m. on January 13, 1840. At 7:30 p.m., the ship's first mate noticed that the woodwork and casings about the smokestack were on fire. At that point, the ship was four miles off Eaton's Neck on the north shore of Long Island, New York. The ship's crewmembers used a hand-pumped fire engine, and buckets to put water on the fire. But, they were not able to put it out, and the ship's three lifeboats were prepared for launch. The ship's paddlewheel was still churning at full speed, since crewmen could not reach the engine room to shut off the boilers. The first boat was sucked into the wheel, killing its occupants. The Captain of the ship had fallen into the lifeboat and was among those killed. The ropes used to lower the other two boats were cut incorrectly. The boats to hit the water stern-first and promptly sank. An attempt was made to steer towards shore to ground the ship. But, the drive rope that controlled the rudder burned through, and the engine stopped two miles from shore. The ship drifted away from land. In addition to the 143 passengers and crew, the ship also carried 150 bales of cotton. The cotton ignited, causing the fire to spread from the smokestack to the entire superstructure. Passengers and crew threw empty baggage containers and bales of cotton into the water to be used as rafts. The center of the main deck collapsed shortly after 8:00 p.m. The fire spread so that most of the passengers and crew were forced to jump into the sub-zero water by midnight. Those who had nothing to climb onto quickly succumbed to hypothermia. The ship was still burning when it sank at 3:00 a.m. on January 14th. Of the 143 people on board, only four survived.
Circus Ferroni Fire - Berditschoft, Poland
Detail >>
A fire broke out on January 13, 1883, during an evening performance of Circus Ferroni in Berditscheff, Russian Poland. (This was in the period after the Napoleonic wars, when part of Poland was annexed by Russia.) A stableman working in the stable adjoining the circus was smoking a cigarette while lying on straw, and the straw ignited. A fellow laborer ran for a pail of water. He left a door open, which created a strong draft that fed the flames. The circus building was made of double wooden walls with straw filling the space between the boards to act as insulation from the cold. The circus building caught fire and, inside of twenty minutes, the whole circus was in flames. Owing to the extreme cold weather, water was scarce. A fire engine was delayed in getting to the fire because while en route it broke through some ice. Official figures state that 268 people were burned to death, 80 were mortally injured, 100 were missing. (other reports state that 430 died) Many children were crushed and suffocated in the jam of people. Both stable laborers who caused the fire died in the fire. 27 horses and 11 trained dogs also died in the fire.
Rhodes Opera House Fire - Boyertown, PA
Detail >>
January 13, 1908, was a terrible night in Boyertown, Pennsylvania. A play at the Rhodes Opera House on Philadelphia Avenue turned deadly. The Sunday school pupils of St. John's Lutheran Church were putting on a performance of ?The Scottish Reformation.? When the curtain rose at 8 o'clock the opera house was packed with representative citizens. The second part of the play had been reached. The young people taking part had just finished their songs, and incidental to the drama a number of pictures were shown by a moving picture machine. The stereopticon machine had a calcium lamp. The operator of the lamp might have opened the wrong valve. The machine started to make a long and loud hissing noise. This frightened the audience and they started running for the stage, thinking that the theater was on fire. At the same time, someone lifted the curtain from the stage to look out and see what the noise was. Somehow, either by the curtain, stage crew trying to calm the audience, or the audience attempting to get on the stage, a kerosene tank that fed the foot lights got dumped and exploded, igniting the curtain. The curtain and scenery went up in flames, with the fire eventually consuming the building. The people in the front of the audience tried to run to the back of the theater, but were blocked by the people from the back who were trying to run to the front after being scared by the noise at the back. Chaos broke out. People started fighting for the exits, literally beating each other with chairs. Some of the exits were bolted. It was only when the crowd had pressed those against the door forward with tremendous force that the door gave way and those in the front were thrown down the steep steps. The momentum of the crowd carried others over the top of the scrambling, squirming heap at the bottom. At least a dozen were trampled to death in the struggle to regain their footing at the bottom of the steps. The mass of bodies obstructed the stairs and prevented those in the rear from getting out. People would later be found in piles four and five deep where they were trying to escape. Many of the bodies were found with the upper portions burned away and the lower portions below the waist being intact, showing how they were wedged in, with the flames sweeping over them and killing them as they were caught. The building was a large brick structure, three stories high. It was destroyed by the fire. The first floor was occupied by the Farmers' National Bank and a hardware store. The second and third floors were occupied by the opera house and a lodge. In the rear were four large dwelling houses which were a part of the building. These were also burned. The Bank had $75,000 in the vault - it was later found intact. The Boyertown Volunteer Fire Department had water playing on the building five minutes after the alarm was sounded. The Pottstown Fire Department arrived at 11:50 p.m., but all the available water failed to quench the flames. At 5 o'clock a.m. the roof of the building fell in. At 6 o'clock a.m. the fire was under control. The first body was not brought out until 8:30 a.m. 171 of the 400 people attending the show died in the fire. The ratio of women and girls to men and boys, was nearly three to one.
Coal Mine Fire - Wilburton, OK

Black Friday Bushfires - Victoria, Australia
Detail >>
The Black Friday fires of January 13, 1939, in Victoria, Australia, are considered one of the worst natural wildfires in the world. 4,942,000 acres (7,722 square miles!) of land were burnt, 71 people died, several towns were entirely destroyed, over 1,300 homes and 69 sawmills were burnt, and a total of 3,700 buildings were destroyed. It was calculated that three quarters of the State of Victoria was directly or indirectly affected by the disaster. Five townships ? Hill End, Narbethong, Nayook West, Noojee, Woods Point ? were completely destroyed, and not all were rebuilt afterwards. The summer of 1938?39 had been hot and dry (exceeding 110?F), and several fires had broken out. By early January, fires were burning in a number of locations across the state. Then, on Friday January 13, a strong northerly wind hit the state, causing several of the fires to combine into one massive front. Ash from the fires fell as far away as New Zealand. The fires came under control two days later, when rain fell on the night of Sunday the 15th.
Northwest Airlines Flight 1 Fire - Miles City, MT
Detail >>
After a cargo pickup and refueling, Northwest Airlines Flight 1 left the Miles City, Montana airport at 9:14 p.m. on January 13, 1939 with two passengers onboard. Shortly after takeoff, at an altitude of five hundred feet, the aircraft began a short turn to the left, lost altitude rapidly, and descended almost to the ground. It then pulled up into a sharp climb, reached about 500 feet again, turned left again, and descended rapidly into a ravine approximately ? mile southwest of the airport. An investigation discovered that an intense fire developed in the cockpit shortly after takeoff. It appeared to have started at the cross-feed fuel valve located between the pilot and co-pilot.
Boeing 727 Crashed into Potomac River - Washington D.C.
Detail >>
An Air Florida Boeing 727 plunged into the Potomac River in Washington D.C. on January 13, 1982. The flight took off from Washington National Airport in Arlington, Virginia, with 74 passengers and 5 crew members on board. The airport had been temporarily closed, because of winter weather. When it re-opened, the plane was de-iced, and after difficulty moving from the gate, taxied to the only open runway, where it was forced to wait 45 minutes for clearance to take off. Not wanting to further delay the flight, the pilot did not return for more de-icing, and worse, failed to turn on the plane?s own de-icing system. During the delay, however, ice was accumulating on the wings, and by the time the plane reached the end of the runway, it was able to achieve only a few hundred feet of altitude. Thirty seconds later, the plane crashed into the 14th Street Bridge over the Potomac River, less than a mile away from the runway. Seven vehicles traveling on the bridge were struck by the 727 and the plane fell into the freezing water. It was later determined that 73 of the people on board the plane died from the impact, leaving only six survivors in the river. In addition, four motorists died in the crash. Traffic that day made it difficult for rescue workers to reach the scene. Witnesses didn?t know what to do to assist the survivors who were stuck in the freezing river. Finally, a police helicopter arrived and began assisting the survivors in a very risky operation. One of the survivors, Arland Williams, passed lifelines on to others rather than take one for himself. When one of the survivors to whom Williams had passed a lifeline was unable to hold on to it, Lenny Skutnik, who was watching the tragedy, jumped into the water and swam to rescue her. Both Skutnik and Williams received the Coast Guard Gold Lifesaving Medal. The bridge was later renamed the Arland D. Williams Jr. Memorial Bridge.
Vehicle Accident - Gratz, PA
Detail >>
A vehicle accident occurred in Gratz on the afternoon of January 13, 2007, at 3:00 p.m. Company 27 responded to 337 East Market Street and found a single car which had hit four parked cars, coming to rest under one of them. Although the patient initially refused medical treatment, Medic-6 requested that he be flown to Hershey Medical Center. Engine 27 set up a landing zone for Life Lion helicopter at the baseball field next to the Gratz fire station.
Turn Hall Fire - Lawrence, MA

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1.The section of calls we've responded to has been compiled from fire company records, newspapers, and other sources. Listings for years prior to 1981 might be incomplete.
2.The listing of local incidents is for incidents that happened around our local area, including some from Lykens for which the fire company was not dispatched. It is certainly not a complete listing, and is not intended to be. It is included here for your entertainment. Incidents listed here have been gathered from public sources.
3.The listing of other noteworthy incidents includes incidents from anywhere outside our local area (for which we were not dispatched). Also included in this section are historical events from our fire company, Lykens, or around the world. It is certainly not a complete listing, and is not intended to be. It is included here for your entertainment. Incidents and events listed here have been gathered from public sources.
4.These lists can be filtered. Use the control section above to activate or de-activate filtering. Filtering will not affect the list of incidents we've responded to. But, it will be applied to both the other lists.

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