Our Community, Our Priority

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Yorktown/Mt Pleasant Fire Department History

While both the town and fire department of Yorktown have long unofficial histories, the official histories of both can be traced back to one major event- a fire in the early morning of January 26, 1913.  The fire ended up consuming an entire half-block of Yorktown’s downtown, destroying seven businesses and causing $50,000 worth of damages (adjusted for inflation this is approximately $1.3 million in 2017 dollars).  A bucket brigade was quickly formed and water was brought from Buck Creek and wells around town but the fire had grown far too large to be affected by mere buckets.  The fire was only brought under control when the Muncie Fire Department arrived by railcar with steam fire engines. 

In the months that followed it was decided that the town should become incorporated, in large part so that it could establish an official fire department and provide equipment to prevent such destruction in the future.  While the town incorporated in the Spring of 1913, the town didn’t order its first apparatus until July- an Obenchain & Boyer double 45 gallon tank chemical cart.  The first fire department members were appointed in September, 1913 and were led by Yorktown’s first fire chief, David Luce.  The first fire “station”, according to one article from 1913, was a shed behind the bank, which would be 9127 W. Smith St. today.

YFD Founded

Fires over the next 20 years, including the near destruction of the Skillen-Goodin glass factory in 1918 and the Boyle Brothers grocery in 1931, proved that the bravery of the volunteer firefighters and 90 gallons of chemical retardant were not always enough.  In 1933 the town purchased its first motorized fire apparatus, a Stutz engine manufactured in Hartford City, IN.  Shortly after WWII the fire department received a second truck, a military surplus Dodge fire engine.  By this time the fire department covered not just the town but also Mt. Pleasant Township.  The new Dodge was designated the “Township” truck, while the Stutz was designated the “Town” truck.  The names described which entity had bought the truck although both were used by the same fire department.

Christmas Eve 1950 saw one of the most damaging fires in the town’s history when the Yorktown Methodist Church, then at the corner of High and Walnut, was reduced to smoldering ruins.  The resulting fire also damaged two nearby homes and the High School.   In 1954 a 1,500-gallon Diamond T/Howe tanker was added to the department for use in areas without fire hydrants.  Yorktown firefighters were on the scene assisting the Muncie Fire Department when three Muncie firefighters were killed in a wall collapse at the Schwartz Paper Company fire in 1955. 

Methodist Church Fire

Above: The Yorktown Methodist Church after the 1950 fire

A major fire on December 11, 1961 occureed at 1250 Kilgore Ave in what was the Muncie Bowling Center.  Yorktown and Muncie firefighters managed to extinguish the blaze after 2 ½ hours but the large 24 lane bowling alley and cocktail lounge was gutted.  The fire department dedicated a new station on August 24, 1963 at Broadway and Arch.  This replaced an even older station in the area of Smith and Broadway.  The 60’s also saw the upgrade to two new Ford C850/Howe engines.  In 1964 a formal mutual aid pact was established among Delaware County fire departments.  This made official what many departments had already been doing- sending equipment and firefighters to other jurisdictions to combat fires and other major incidents.

The 1970s would put the pact to the test and keep Yorktown firefighters busy.  In 1972 the department built a new tanker (“Tanker 65”) and in 1979 got a new GMC/Howe engine (“Engine 62”).  On May 13, 1974 the Top Hat restaurant on St. Rd. 32 between Yorktown and Daleville was destroyed by fire.  The building was over 100 years old and was a residence before it was converted into a restaurant in the 1930s.  The fire department assisted Muncie on two large fires in 1977, at the Ashcraft Machine Co. and G&G Oil.  January of 1978 was particularly busy for the fire department as they assisted Muncie on two large fires during what would be referred to as the Blizzard of ’78.  On the 24th the Delaware Trucking Company warehouse at Liberty and Council in Muncie was burned to rubble.  Firefighters were still dousing hotspots at the trucking company fire three days later on Friday the 27thwhen a massive gas line explosion gutted the High Street United Methodist Church.  The snow was so heavy that on the same day part of the Yorktown High School roof collapsed under the weight of the snow.

Allstate Landscaping Fire 1971

Above: Allstate Landscaping Fire in Cammack, 1971

A large fire on October 2, 1981 caused $400,000 of damage to the BIC Inc. warehouse in Cammack.  On July 12, 1983 a large fire destroyed two businesses on the Muncie/Yorktown line at 5900 Kilgore- Soft-n-Silky Floral Supplies and Shoes & Gloves Inc.  On December 18 of that year fire destroyed the Country Collections pottery shop at 4409 Kilgore.  1986 saw the department purchase a new Ford C800/FMC engine (“Old Engine 61”) that would stay in service as a reserve engine until 2010.  In 1987 the department got a second 1500 gallon tanks (“Tanker 64”).  On October 28, 1989 Yorktown assisted Muncie in a large fire at the Colonial Crest Apartments just west of Morrison Rd. that destroyed 14 apartments. 

May 12, 1992 saw the complete destruction of the Outpost Smorgasbord at I69 and In. 332.   1996 saw the purchase of the oldest of our current fleet, an International/KME 1,000 gallon engine (Engine 63) and an International/KME 3,000 gallon tanker (Tanker 66).  Yorktown responded to Eaton on June 2, 1997 when two of its downtown businesses caught fire.  On June 25, 1999 Yorktown units assisted Anderson FD in saving the historic Anderson High School Wigwam gym, but could not save the rest of the school.  In 2000 the fleet was further upgraded with the purchase of a GMC/S&S 2100 gallon tanker (Tanker 67) and a KME 500 gallon rescue/engine (Rescue 68).  The 2000s also saw the construction of the current Yorktown fire station.  On August 1, 2003 Yorktown was one of the initial departments that responded to the CR3 tire recycling facility fire.  That fire eventually lasted for three days and required 33 fire departments and 200+ firefighters.  In 2006 the department purchased a Seagrave 750 gallon engine (Engine 61). 

On June 15, 2011, the Yorktown Fire Department responded as mutual aid to a church fire at the Tabernacle of Praise church at 2200 Fuson Rd. At that fire current Muncie firefighter and former Yorktown Fire Chief Scott Davis was killed by a roof collapse.  2013 was a banner year for Yorktown as the town of Yorktown consolidated with Mt. Pleasant Township to create a single entity.  It was also the 100th anniversary of both the town and the fire department.  In 2015 Yorktown purchased its first ever aerial device, a Smeal 100’/400 gallon quint tower ladder.  On January 4, 2016 the former Dairy Queen building at 9135 W. Smith St. in downtown Yorktown burned in what was ruled to be an arson fire.

The Yorktown Fire Department continues to make history every day and looks forward to another hundred years of protecting the citizens of Yorktown and surrounding communities.