December 30, 1954: Schmoyer's Lumber Yard Destroyed by Raging Fire Causing Damage to Nearby Homes


By Margaret Leidy Harner from her book One Day at a Time: A Social History of Boyertown, PA.

December 30, 1954: The skies of southeastern Pennsylvania lit up this morning at 3:15, and it all centered around Boyertown. What started as a small fire in a building containing roofing materials in Schmoyer’s Lumber Yard at the corner of North Washington and East Fourth Streets, rapidly engulfed the entire yard, and a strong wind carried the flames to the houses across the street.

Eighteen different firefighting organizations responded to the alarm. Firemen battled desperately to save the eight homes and the Orioles “Nest” on the east side of Washington Street, but could not prevent extensive damage to them. The heat from the fire was so intense that over 200 feet of heavy fire hose with water gushing through it was burned up almost immediately and the flames turned the running water to steam.

The illumination from the flames was so bright that one could have read a newspaper at 4 in the morning in any yard in town. The blaze was reported to have been seen as far away as Birdsboro, Schwenksville and Germantown. The firemen did block the inferno from reaching Fourth Street and Leroy Brunner, who lives at 217 East Fourth Street, signed with relief, “that was too close for comfort.”

Fortunately, there was no loss of life. The Salvation Army kept the firemen supplied with coffee and baker John L. Graver, whose father was the fireman killed in the Boyertown Opera House fire, distributed food. Police and insurance investigators cannot pin down a cause for the fire, but there is a strong suspicion of arson.

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