February 17, 1899

Shortly before 4 o'clock last Sunday morning Mrs. Albert Shepard, at the County House, discovered that the sleeping apartments of the keeper's family were filled with smoke. She went down to the lower floor to investigate the source of the smoke and soon discovered that the store room of the institution, situated immediately to the west of the of the living apartments, was on fire. The family were at once aroused and the alarm of fire was given throughout the buildings. The fire was found to be making headway in the now unused west wing of the old buildings and prompt measures were taken to check its spread. A gang of inmates set to work with pails carrying water from the laundry building, which was used with considerable effect in the fight against the flames. The fire hose was brought into use and attached to a hydrant and a stream was started, but before it could be made effective the pressure bursted the hose. A fresh length was substituted for the ruined piece but this in turn failed to withstand the pressure and bursted. It was now thought that the entire building must burn and all the furniture of the keepers quarters was moved out. The bucket brigade, composed of inmates, continued to fight the spread of the fire while a messenger was sent here to Lyons for assistance. Chief Engineer Bourne designated the apparatus of Hose Company No. 2 to be sent to the rescue of the burning buildings, and that redoubtable and fearless fire fighter Ben. Mirick with his assistant Bob Durkee were soon flying like the wind for the County House. Big Tom, the famous horse of the No. 2's, never made better time and brought his equipment to the scene of action in an incredibly short space of time. Several other young men of the fire department followed the hose cart in another rig. By the prompt and skillful work of Ben. Mirick and his men the fire was soon under control, and after about an hour's hard work it was subdued and put out.

The damage to the buildings was in the vicinity of $400. In addition over two hundred cans of fruit, a large quantity of lard and many other supplies were totally destroyed. The loss was fully covered by insurance.

Too much credit cannot be given to Ben. Mirick and Messrs. Durkee, Gucker, Buell, Boehmler and Marshall for the able manner in which they handled the fire, and to their efforts is due the saving of the building. Also James Loveland, an employee, assisted by a willing crowd of men who are inmates of the County House, are deserving of the highest commendation for the long and tiresome battle which they waged against the flames in the bitter cold weather of that early morning. By the hardest kind of work they succeeded in holding the fire in check until the arrival of the Lyons firemen.

The original article about the bravery of firefighters down through the years is on file at the Office of the County Historian, Lyons, NY.

Contributed by Co-coordinator Allyn Hess Perry. All spellings and punctuation are as in the original. Thank you in advance for directing all questions about persons mentioned to the Office of the Wayne County Historian (see our links page).

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Created: 2/11/02
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