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65 Years Ago

Here’s an outreach opportunity from the past. Given the current weather, it seems unlikely that you’d be called into action this week…

from The Hermonite, vol. LXVI, no. 5, p. 1; November 8, 1952.

Fire-Fighters Help Quench First Forest Fire
of the 1952 Season

On Tuesday evening, October 28, an ominous orange glow appeared on the mountainside beyond the Mount Hermon gymnasium in Northfield Farms. The glow turned out to be Franklin County’s first major forest fire of the season. Viewed from the Hill, the fire created quite a bit of excitement, flaring up occasionally so that the crimson flames were silhouetted against the black sky. The big question was – when was the fire-fighting group going to be called to action? Several optimistic Hermonites dressed and offered their services for the event, but were quickly turned down by their floor masters.

The Word

At 9:30 the word came from the Northfield Fire Department for Mr. Orvil E. Mirtz, head of the fire-fighters at Mount Hermon, and his crew to test their latent fire-fighting ability. Armed with extinguishers, eighteen Hermonites and three staff members fought the blaze for the rest of the night and into the wee hours of the morning. Several acres of woody hillside were blackened before the valiant fighters had the fire under control.

2:30 in the Morning

Returning to Hermon at 2:30 A.M., the firefighters let their dangerous exploits be known to their fellow students by turning on the lights in their rooms. More than one Hermonite thought he was still having a nightmare when his sleepy eyes beheld the soot-covered face of his roommate. Too excited to go to bed, the fighters related their evening’s work to their friends. “When we arrived on the scene,” exclaimed one fire-fighter, “the fire was almost out. Near the fire, a gas truck was parked. Of all places for a gas truck to be parked, but I soon found out that its tank was filled with water. Our job was to fill up the tank with water, extinguish the small grass fires, and to keep the flash fires from spreading. We did this with small fire extinguishers. After the stories of their nocturnal venture were told, the boys went to bed and were allowed the whole morning off to relax their tired bones.

Wednesday morning dawned with a thick mist filling the valley below the hill. The sun glared through the clouds with a deep orange glow, telling the disastrous story of the night before.