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Wednesday, December 20, 1967 ....
The Day the Penn Yan Firehouse Burned Down
It was a day that everyone in Penn Yan who was born before the mid 1960’s remembers!
Here's the story, as best I can recall:
It was my day off, so I was a bit late getting up. I heard Penn Yan's "fire honker" blare out, but not in the usual way, then it just died. Soon I heard an excited voice on my police / fire scanner repeating: "TA18 to Sheriff’s Department - TA18 to Sheriff’s Department". There was no answer. Soon, the Bath dispatcher responded "TA18, can I relay a message by land line?" TA18 replied "Yes, our firehouse is on fire and we've lost all our equipment!"
I made record time dressing, then grabbed my camera and headed downtown. Knowing that Main Street might be in chaos, I drove the back streets and alleys to reach the rear of the firehouse. Once there, I found heavy fire billowing out of the windows, but nobody else was around. It was quite a while before any units showed up at the rear, I think it was a Branchport fire truck which had come seven miles to assist.
As things progressed, various companies arrived with fire engines, but a lack of ladder trucks saw some non-firefighting equipment pressed into service. "Cherry picker" type trucks belonging to local construction and power companies were used to elevate hose lines while Geneva's ladder truck made the 17 mile trip to Penn Yan.
When I went to Main Street, I was surprised to see a small, charred, smoldering fire truck in the street! It was in terrible shape - certainly, no one had driven it out! Later, I heard the story. As the fire was well underway, the wiring in the truck shorted out, operating the truck's starter. The truck was in gear, so the starter rolled it out. All ablaze, it headed across the street. Someone grabbed a trash container and threw it in front of the truck. It wedged against the curb, stopping the blazing truck before it reached the building which housed the insurance company that held insurance on the firehouse.
Some photos - more to come
The rear of the firehouse
Here's the truck that rolled out -
shown after it had been towed up the street a bit.
These trucks were temporaily parked near the Little League field
Below - the two story building is the firehouse, about 1925.
Except for having newer doors, it was essentially the same when it burned.
It was very small, just wide enough for two trucks. By storing two deep, it held four trucks.
The buildings on both sides were "saved", but received damage and were torn down.
The replacment firehouse is much more functional!