The Big Fire Of 1876
From Dr. T.J. Henry’s The History of Apollo 1816-1916
For a period of sixty years after the laying out of Apollo. only three buildings burned. An extensive conflagration occurred Wednesday night, January 19, 1876, which originated from the overturning of a kerosene oil lamp in H.A. Rudolf’s shoe store. Twenty nine buildings in all were destroyed, causing $32,000 damage, with insurance of $12,000. The high winds caused the flames to spread rapidly along the southerly side of North Street (First Street) from its lower end to the third public alley above the canal beyond the vacant lots of John B. Chambers. About 24 buildings on the southerly side of North Street, three blocks above the canal, and about five on the northerly side of Main Street (South Second Street) were destroyed. Among these buildings were the post office and savings bank. The people had NO MEANS of extinguishing the fire, except for their own vigorous efforts in the use of household buckets. It was very fortunate under the circumstances of a high wind that the destruction was not more extensive. THE NEED OF A FIRE DEPARTMENT AND MORE EFFECTIVE MEANS OF PROMPTLY EXTINGUISHING FIRES THAN THE COMMON HOUSEHOLD BUCKET WAS VERY APPARENT.
From there Dr. Henry describes the fire departments that were established:
Fire protection is only by volunteer companies of which we have three. No. 1 Hose Company and Hook & Ladder Company have their headquarters in the Municipal Building on South Second Street. Hose Company No. 2 keeps the hose cart and other equipment in Dr. T.J. Henry’s garage and hold their meetings in the hall above. The Oak Hill Company or Hose Company No. 3 has had a large building erected by the borough, at a cost of $920 for their equipment, hose cart, and ladders. This is also the home of the borough horse. Fire alarms are now rung by telephone central.
The History of Apollo Volunteer Fire Departments
In 1969, William Kerr, Jr. put together a comprehensive book titled “The History of Apollo Fire Department 1888-1969. The following information comes mainly from that book. The history covers Apollo Hose Companies Number One, Two, and Three, and a summary of the major fires in Apollo.
Hose Company No.1, known as the Hook & Ladder Company was equipped with a hose cart and a hook and ladder wagon which was stored in the municipal building on South Second Street. Throughout the years, Hose Company No. 1 had difficulty in operating as a firm organization. The members were organized, but disbanded and reorganized several times during the organization’s existence. On Sept. 6, 1921, Hose Company No. 2 (established in 1888) issued an invitation to consolidate. Records show that most of the firemen joined with No. 2. The Hook & Ladder truck went with No. 2. Hose Company No. 2 met in various places in the business part of town for years, having no permanent meeting place. For example, on January 21, 1921, they met in the room over Dr. T.J. Henry’s garage. In 1925, Apollo Borough Council erected a building with offices for mayor, town council, tax collector, Legion, and municipal auditorium. They provided room for the fire equipment. From 1925 until 1951 Hose Company No. 2 housed its equipment in the north end of the borough building.
In 1951 the company moved to the south side of the building when it was remodeled. The firemen made room for two trucks, a recreation room, kitchen, meeting room, restroom, and a large auditorium. In the 1930’s Hose Co. No.2 installed bowling lanes in the basement of the municipal building. The lanes provided great entertainment and resulted in a successful money raising project until 1962 when the lanes had to be closed because of corrupting problems.
Hose Company No. 3, known as the Oak Hill Fire Department, officially received its charter in 1898. Since the members had no permanent meeting place, the company met in stables, garages, empty storerooms, and vacant houses. In 1907 Apollo Borough Council granted Hose Co. No. 3 the privilege of erecting a building on N. 5th Street, donating $30, providng the company would furnish the balance for material and do the work.
The building housed the company’s 2 wheel hose cart until 1915 when Apollo Borough Council purchased a lot and built a second building at a cost of $920. In 1962 Apollo Hose Co. No. 3 purchased a vacant lot across from the fire hall on N. 5th Street and built a new $45,000 building. the building has room for four pumpers, a large dining room, a large kitchen, two meeting rooms, rest rooms, and storage areas. The first building was torn down and the lot used for parking.