Historic Incidents

Throughout a fire company’s history there are always a few calls which stand out. Calls that are never forgotten and are handed down from generation to generation.

Brandtsville Train Wreck April 28, 1963

A train wreck involving tank cars resulted in a BLEVE.

Two tank cars were of major concern to arriving units. A tank car of Chlorine gas and one filled with propane. Burning cars on the proximity of these tank cars were the focus of the incident. Firefighters had been cooling the propane tank car via sweeping hose streams and master streams. Upon arrival, county and state officials ordered all streams to be “Tied down” and the area evacuated .The resulting mushroom cloud could be seen for miles. Several firefighters received radiant burns; the county official was severely injured. Hundreds of feet of 2 1/2 hose and other equipment was left unusable. Pieces of the tank car which failed are said to still be in the mountain in the area of Indian Peg Road.

The Grantham Aircraft Engine Works – April 28-29, 1956 This building once stood in the area of what is now Messiah College. This fire went to seven alarms. Large amounts of burning magnesium and other exotic metals hampered suppression efforts. More information can be found at:  http://upperallenfire.com/wp/wp-content/aircraft.pdf

Arch Street School July 29, 1972Fire broke out around noon. First arriving units found the bell tower and part of the roof well involved. Lower Allen Township’s Ladder Truck is shown operating.

Thomas Printing January 12, 1903 

Updegraf’s Bowling Alley – March 31, 1956North Market Street and Railroad Crossing  Three young lives were lost in this tradegy

Harry D Shearer Age 2
Michael Shearer Age 4
Joann Shearer Age 8

The resulting public outcry leads to the first purchase of breathing apparatus in the Borough

Rakestraw’s Ice Cream August 21, 1991 One of Mechanicsburg’s best known landmarks, Rakestraw’s Ice Cream Factory was intentionally sent a blaze by a disgruntled employee. This was the last borough fire to reach 4th alarm status with units from just about every municipality in eastern Cumberland County lending assistance. The employee who started the fire was found guilty of arson and jailed for his crime. After a tremendous rebuilding effort the Ice Cream Shop reopened and is once again visited by thousands each year.


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