April 19, 1912: Bally Fire Destroys General Store without Help from Boyertown Fire Company


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

April 19, 1912: There was a huge fire in Bally that destroyed Bechtel’s General Store and threatened the United States Post Office located in that building. It had started in the second story of a barn in back of the store; and in less than three hours, the store, barn, and a wagon shed next to it had fallen prey to the flames.

When smoke was seen issuing from the barn, an alarm was sounded by the steam whistle at Grim’s Knitting Mill. In no time the streets were full of men and women rushing to the scene, carrying buckets to help put out the flames. Bally had no fire company, and the East Greenville firemen were the first to respond to the call for help. They came equipped with chemical apparatus and assisted the bucket brigade in saving the adjoining residence of Mrs. Bechtel.

The heat from the fiercely burning store building was so intense that some of the fire fighters were severely scorched. By the time the Goodwill Fire Company from Pottstown arrived, coming by train to Barto, the greatest danger of the fire spreading to the hotel across the street had passed, but their firemen kept a steady stream of water against the smoking sides of the endangered buildings.

A number of volunteers helped remove the contents of Mrs. Bechtel’s house to safely, thus saving them from ruin by water and smoke damage. Contents of the Post Office were snatched from the approaching flames and removed to the bank building, and the post office was temporarily set up there to continue business.

The Boyertown Fire Company has come in for a scathing rebuke for refusing to allow any of its fire apparatus to be taken to help the unfortunate village. It is not certain who is to blame for that decision. Burgess Levi E. Lefever was willing to let the fire company take the equipment to the fire, but someone else in power vetoed the proposal. “We certainly deserve all the rebuke,” says Editor Spatz. The total loss is over $22,000.

More News from Boyertown
I'm interested
I disagree with this
This is unverified