Major Fires or Disasters

2/1/1953 – Starr’s Store, the Iva Hendricks home and Salada home were destroyed by fire on Willing St., the latter being saved. The George Starr home and the George Zimmerman home sustained some damage.

12/13/1963 – Branch Twp. School was destroyed by fire which started in the basement. The only part of the school saved was the auditorium and gymnasium. Across the street the home of Louise Houser suffered considerable damage. The heat from the fire was so intense that the north wall of the old brick school (occupied at the time by a dress factory), was “red hot”. The employees removed all material stored near this wall, preventing another catastrophe.

12/1970 – The firehouse destroyed by fire. The fire started in the bar area near a beer cooler. Michael Pothering Sr., tried to save the fire truck by going inside the main entrance but the engine would not start. He said the tires were on fire when he got in the engine. When the members ripped off the garage doors by their bare hands, the flames shot all the way across the street. All the neighboring fire company’s efforts to try to save the building & engine were all in vein.

1970 – The Bur Ben Bar an old landmark for the town was destroyed by fire. Tony Shultz who lived nearby, fired three shots from his rifle in the air to awaken the neighbors & fire company.

04/30/1984 – Six young people plunged down a mine shaft on the Sharp Mountain in a four wheel drive Chevrolet blazer, there were no survivors. It took one week to retrieve their bodies. The names of the victims were: Mark and Connie Bluis, Sheri Bluis, Patrice Meza and Thomas Frew. The fire house acted as the Command Post during this event and the members were there for security and support help for the miners and the mine emergency rescue teams.

05/1986 – The Branch Coal Breaker destroyed by fire in 1968. The breaker was abandoned for years when it caught on fire in the early morning hours. A movie “The Molly Maguires” was filmed on this location, starring Richard Harris & Sean Connery in 1969. The scene using the breaker as a background was when the Jack Kehoe was captured. When the fire happened, the fire departments stood by making sure no dwellings caught on fire from the spectacular blaze.

07/1993 – A fire destroys Don’s Classic Restoration and Auto Repair on Route 209. A worker was removing a gas tank from a vehicle when it slid off a stand pouring gasoline all over the floor. The fumes may have been ignited by a shop light on the floor.

10/04/1993 – A train crane toppled over killing the operator and trapping him underneath.

09/05/2005 – Hurricane Katrina came to shore on 08/25/05 in the gulf coastal region of Mississippi. The category 5 hurricane totally devastated the Cities of Gulfport & Long Beach and the surrounding area to Louisiana including New Orleans. The cry went out to the USA asking for help. Harrison County, Mississippi, requested help on 09/02/05. Pennsylvania answered the call with rescue teams, ambulances and tankers. Since the Good Intent Hose Co. No. 1 received a Federal Grant to purchase our pumper\tanker the members decided this was a great way to help repay the people of the United States when they came thru for us. It took 3 days for the two states to give the final ok for us to go. On Labor Day 09/05/2005 at 8:00AM the call came thru from PEMA to deploy the tanker task force. @ 10:15AM Fire Chief Michael F. Pothering Jr. and 1st Asst. Chief Mark Oshman left the station to meet up with the rest of the PA Tanker Task Force on the south western end of the state at the last exit in PA on I79 before heading down to Mississippi. This left 2nd Asst. Chief Maurice Lord in charge of the station until we came back. During the trip, Mike was notified by PEMA that he was in charge of the PA Tanker Task Force. By 6:30PM we left the meeting spot with a 12 tanker task force and 25 fire fighters. The tanker task force stopped in Beckley West Virginia at midnight to get some rest. 09/06/05 the team left at 6:10AM and arrived at the Emergency Operations Center in Gulfport, Ms on 09/07/05 at 2:00AM. We were told to get some rest and by 8:00AM we got our assignment to Gulfport Central Fire Station for the first week. We were redeployed to Long Beach for the second week.

We returned safe & sound on 09/17/05 without any problems.