"You don't know where you are going, if you don't know where you came from, and how you got to where you are!" JB 3:16, 9/99

LVFC Historical Incidents - Photos

Past and historical fires are here for all to see how the times have changed (but never the danger)!


Horses really did pull engines and men carried leather buckets with water!

No matter what anyone says...I did NOT start as the guy in charge of feedbags for the horse that pulled the hose wagons and steam engines...you had to promote to that position! I was in charge of the shovels behind the horses!!!  :)

1974 Anne's Boutique - Downtown Leesburg is threatened!

It was a Monday evening - tones dropped - structure fire - people trapped!

I was the Truck Officer and on arrival the bucket firefighters - John and Jim Pumphrey rushed inside to save the trapped victim - THEIR AUNT!

I wound up operating the ladder pipe for over an hour - 3 Trucks were dispatched on the 3-alarm fire - bringing Co's 1, 5, 6, 2, 7, 10, 11, Trucks 1, 11, Ffx Truck 25, R13, R17! 

Truck 1 in the rear (Side Charlie), Sterling Truck 11 on Loudoun Street (side Bravo) and Fairfax County Truck 25 on King St. (Side Alpha) - w/ tillerman "Frozen Freddie" Nicholson [he drove the open cab tiller :) ] [Freddie and I were both LCHS Class of 66 graduates!!!] 

People used to joke and say - "If downtown Leesburg ever goes up in flames just wait at the intersections and stop it there!"

The crews that night confined the fire to only 2 stores - (Annes Botiques and The Leather Shop) - both buildings were lost BUT a life was saved and the historic district preserved!

AH&T - who insured the building - created a National Commercial with the rescue and the efforts of the firefighters as the focal point! It was filmed in Purcellville using a similar building for the shots!

HEY! It was 30 seconds of fame for LVFC! 

Urban Renewal in Leesburg!!!
The Jenkins Mill Fire

It was a feed mill, like Clint Saffer's Feed Mill. Saffer's was just a few hundred yards further south on Harrison St. The call went out - FF Tommy Downs and myself were on the Seagrave Pumper and on arrival Chief Watson ordered a 2 1/2 " to the heavy fire at the rear - we couldn't get into the building - heavy wooden doors that had 2"x12" boards across the sliding doors as the barrier to secure it at night - we tried, but the fire raced up the outside side of the old wooden building and within minutes it became a defensive fire!

Chief Watson had huge exposure problems so we focused on those. The ladder pipe was pressed into quick service. Hose stetched everywhere.

But it would be later on in the operation that a ladder pipe tip broke off and hit Asst Chief Fiske in the back of the leg - he was taken to LHC where a blood clot that developed in his leg and threatened his life was discovered - if it moved to his heart he could die - he was carefully monitored for days - but the clot eventually broke up and he could go home!

Hose stretched like spaghetti everywhere!!!

Video Den Fire on Catoctin Circle

President Ron Nicholas would be at the S. King St. 7-11 enroute to work when he saw these flames coming through the roof of the 5 business complex in front of the bowling alley!

Sgt Bill Borger was the first in officer - faced with heavy fire he ordered a frontal attack into the video den store - FM 3 (me!) arrived and shot this picture - later part of a large lawsuit - as I got out of my cruiser, that showed the origin area and what we would face head-on!

Sgt Borger then took the lead on the interior attack and passed command to me - I struck a second alarm, and the aggressive attack focused on saving the million dollar bowling alley that was directly behind the building [within about 10ft.] and confining the fire to the video den.   Within a few minutes of his arrival and taking his position, Chief Muth (Co.6) on side Delta would radio to me that a crack had appeared in the wall - the steel beams were elongating in the heat and pushing the walls out! I ordered evacuation and the defensive mode - the building and it's contents were lost - BUT the bowling alley was saved - one helluva "JOB WELL-DONE" for the teams that night! [Co's 1, 5, 6, 2, 10 , 7, Tr 1 & 11, 13. ]

(l-r) Fire Marshal Jeff Flippo, Chief FM O.R. Dube', and Fire Marshal "J.B." Anderson investigating and discussing the point of origin at the front door of what's left of the video Den. 

One of the most dangerous situations involved a Friday the 13th day of Hell in Leesburg! Chief Terry Frye had command of this one. A fuel tanker unloading at the bulk storage facility behind the Gulf Gas station across from Station 13 left his truck for a moment - when he returned, fire surrounded the jockey pumps that unloaded fuel into the storage tanks. He tried moving his vehicle - pulling the pumps, shattering pipes and it was the beginning of a blaze seen as far away as Washington, DC!
 As the on-duty Fire Marshal, I went straight to the scene and began photos that would lock this day into the books in print!
This is the most requested photo of the day! (check out gas prices - $1.09!)

Co. 13 was pinned in it's building by the huge blaze  - Chief 4 Jim Cunningham, dispatcher on duty at the time, realized the serious nature and went ahead and contacted Dulles Fire for mutual aid - if he had not done that, this could have been a HUGE DISASTER!! 

Dulles thought it was just the tanker on fire until their unit turned onto Rt 7 toward Leesburg - they called their dispatch for another foam truck with over 150 5-gal containers of more foam!

FF Ken Christenson gets ready to man the deck gun as another portable monitor nozzle pours water onto the funeral home in an effort to protect it!

[(There will be more on the stories of the horrible day we would face and a full photo album on this fire shortly - after I scan them in - keep checking back...]

Page Comments

It's much eaesir to understand when you put it that way!