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Wednesday, January 23, 2013 HARRISBURG BUREAU OF FIRE



Compiled by David W. Houseal, HFD historian

An official log of the fire does not exist. Leroy “Skip” Esworthy was the dispatcher that morning and events moved so fast, he had no time to make a detailed log. The official city fire report also is not very detailed and does not list any alarm times, nor companies responding. The following is taken from his scribbled notes, notes from the Dauphin and Cumberland County Commcenters, personal knowledge and other interviews. In keeping with the fire alarm records I have logged over the years I mainly use the following sources: Official city fire records, personal experience, interviews with HFD members and various newspaper reports.

Vernon Industrial Building, 1408 Vernon St. Large 6/8 story brick vacant mill type bldg approx. 200' x 125'. Flooring and interior of building of oil soaked timber construction. Building built late 19th century. Arson fire started 1st fl. and raced upwards thru open elevator shafts. Fire very spectacular and could be seen for many miles around. Initial interior hose crews had to be pulled out when fire was discovered on floors above. Floors and walls began collapsing by 0730 hrs. Water supply was initial problem but eventually solved with long LDH lays to good hydrants. Large number of surrounding buildings (26) damaged by radiant heat or collapse. HFD rigs had to be moved early into fire. Weather unseasonably warm. Total of 40 rigs on scene or in city. Sixty nine people displaced from damaged houses. Loss listed at $500,000.

0618 Box 611, S. Fourteenth & Howard Sts. Wagon 4, Wagon 3, Tower 1, Tower 2, Squad 8, Engine 6, Capt 2(Acting BC) A Platoon.

0625 Second alarm (2-2),Chiefs 1 and 2
Transfer Dauphin Engine 301, Cumberland Truck 12 to Station 2

0630 Third alarm (3-3) HFD Recall(5 off duty firefighters and one officer)
Dauphin Engine 301, Engine 372, Truck 32, Cumberland Truck 12, Air Wagon 11
Transfer Dauphin Engine 40,Truck 34,Rescue 34 to Station 2 and Cumberland Engine 215 to Station 1
0646 Special called Dauphin Engine 40 to the scene for LDH

0647 Fourth alarm (4-4) Dauphin Engine 32, Truck 34, Rescue 34, Air Wagon 35; Cumberland Engine 215; York Truck 69

0649 Box 612, Sixteenth & Market Sts. HFD Reserve Engine 2, Chief 10. Reflection of fire in windows of

0650 Transfer Dauphin Engine 43, Truck 456 to Station 2; and Cumberland Engine 210, Dauphin Truck 50 to Station 1

0652 All personnel ordered out of building and collapse zones established.

0658 2100 block Rudy Rd. HFD Reserve Engine 2, Dauphin Engine 32, Truck 32, Chief 10, Reflection of fire in windows of houses.

At this point Radio Dispatcher Esworthy notified command he was “off the running card for Box 611” and was in the reference section for District #4 Task Force Box. All dispatchers were having difficulty
filling assignments and keeping the city covered.

0701 Nineteenth and Brookwood Sts. HFD Reserve Engine 2, Chief 10; False call

0701 Fifth alarm (5-5) Dauphin Engine 43, Truck 456, Truck 50, Cumberland Engine 210

0707 Thirteenth & Sycamore HFD Reserve Engine 2, Dauphin Truck 32, Truck 34, Engine 34, Chief 10 Reported fire at Shadler Bros. Electrical Supply. False alarm

0708 Special called Dauphin Engine 41, Engine 33 to scene for LDH

0710 Transfer Dauphin Engine 361, Truck 46, Rescue 50 to Station 2; Dauphin Engine 38 to Station 1

0711 1700 block Market Street and also 37 S. Eighteenth Street, HFD Reserve Engine 2, Chief 10 Reflection of fire in windows of houses.

0713 Box 612, Sixteenth & Market Streets. HFD Reserve Engine 2, Chief 10; Reflection of fire in windows.

0718 Sixth alarm (6-6) Dauphin Engine 361, Engine 38, Truck 46, Rescue 50

0722 Box 722, S. Fifteenth & Berryhill Streets. HFD Reserve Engine 2, Chief 10-Falling embers
and brands.

0725 Transfer Dauphin Engine 59,Truck 20, Truck 456 to Station 2; and Dauphin Engine 561, Squad 42, Rescue 48, Cumberland Truck 43, Lancaster Truck 74 to Station 1

0732 Special called Dauphin Engine 35 to the scene for LDH

Following the arrival of members of C Platoon in their quarters at 0730, they reported to the scene. HACC Engine 1 transported the members of Station 1 and remained on the scene.

0829 Fire declared under control by orders of HFD Chief 1

About 1000 HACC Engine 1 with C Platoon members and Chief 9 returned to Sta. 1 to relieve E59
and run the city. Up to this point only HFD FF Sam Clark was acting as a pilot at Sta. 2. Some out of town rigs had to ask directions just to get to the station they were assigned to!

1032 100 S. Nineteenth St. Edison Village; Dauphin Engine 561, Truck 34, Squad 42, Rescue 48, Cumberland Truck 43, Chief 9, Captain 1. AFA-working on alarm system and failed to notify Headquarters.

1433 Box 123, Sixth & Radnor Sts. for 611 Radnor Street. Engine 1,Wagon 3,Tower 1, Dauphin Truck 456, Chief 9. Reported vacant building fire-nothing found.

2139 All HFD apparatus finally left scene.

0047 624-26 Ross St. Wagon 3, Wagon 4, Tower 1, Tower 2, Engine 1, Squad 8, Chiefs 7,10 (D Platoon) Two story dwellings. Electrical fire started in basement joist area. Fire damage to basement and first fl thru stairs of 624. Heavy smoke damage to first and second floors. Check for extension and light
smoke to 626. One person displaced. Fire was under control at 0109. Loss was $5,000.

City of Harrisburg
W4,W3,E1,E6,Sq,T1,T2,RE2,City Command Van
(Tower 1(1971 Mack) out of service-Tower 3 running for T1 and E6 was in
service at Paxton in place of T3)
Dauphin County
E33-Colonial Park
E361-West Hanover Twp.
E372-Rescue/Susquehanna Twp.
T456-Chambers Hill
E59-Lower Swatara Twp
E1 -Harrisburg Area Community College

Cumberland County
T12-Lower Allen Twp.
E210-New Cumberland

York County
T69-DDRE(Defense Depot Region East)

Lancaster County