Hamburg, PA St. Michael's Lutheran Reformed Church Fire, May 1875
A correspondent of a Reading paper writes:--
A terrible affair occurred in a grove about four miles west of Hamburg on Sunday. The occasion was the dedication of the new church building of the St. Michael’s Lutheran Reformed Congregation, which has replaced the old church, and which has just been completed. A large number of people from Hamburg and the adjacent country were present. They came by the hundreds, with their horses and vehicles of various descriptions. Many of them had new vehicles and new harness. Before the services began the woods near the church were crowded with teams by the dozen. An unlooked for and sudden calamity came upon this peaceful scene, and changed it into one of confusion and horror. The grove was thickly covered with leaves, which were dry like tinder and very inflammable. It is supposed some one used a match to light a cigar and unguardedly threw it down among the dry leaves. At any rate, from some cause the leaves caught fire; and before the fact was noticed almost a conflagration was raging. Imagine the situation and you may be able to realize the horrors of it. Horses and vehicles packed together thickly in a grove, the ground strewn with dry leaves, a fire began and raging fiercely among the affrighted animals and their owners pouring out from church to the rescue. The pen cannot do justice to the scene, and we will not attempt the impossible. Some seventeen vehicles were destroyed and five horses were burned to death. Five more horses had to be killed, to be put out of agony. Some of the poor animals were burnt so badly that their hoofs dropped off. A number of people had their hands burned and clothing ruined in attempts to put out the fire and rescue the animals.
The Herald And Torch Light, Hagerstown, MD, 26 May 1875