On a quite Sunday, June 26, 1988, a catastrophe
occurred in Perkasie. The Great Perkasie Fire was started by
two 12 year old Perkasie boys. There was an estimated $ 9 million
in damage from the fire. The boys were playing in the area of
the coal bins behind Shelly's headquarters building; they were
lighting small fires with matches which led to a huge fire. The
blaze was ruled as arson and five charges were made against the
two boys. The blaze leveled a block-and-a-half area of historic
downtown Perkasie. High winds and intense heat contributed to
making this fire the worst fire in Perkasie and Upper Bucks County
Veteran firefighter Jeffrey Schoeller turned
in the alarm when he noticed smoke coming from the old shed when
he crossed the railroad tracks. The structure was in full blaze
by the time the fire trucks arrived. The fire soon spread across
to the Moyer building and then 50 feet across the Street to Lesher's
| The shed at left is where
the fire started. The Moyer building (Shelly's Headquarters) is
located to the right.
|| Here is the train barn, shed,
and Shelly's Headquarters fully engulfed in flames.
| View from Seventh Street of
the train barn, shed, and Shelly's Headquarters. The Herstine
building is at left.
|| View from West Market Street
(near Eighth Street) of fire.
There were 275 firefighters from 50 companies
from a three county area that fought the fire. Only 16 people,
mostly firefighters were injured in the fire. Two pieces of fire-fighting
equipment were lost by the Perkasie Fire Company - a snorkel
and ladder truck (their most valuable piece of equipment) and
a pumper truck.
| Snorkel and ladder truck on Seventh Street.
|| One of two destroyed vehicles in the fire.
A ball of flames jumped across Seventh
Street and took out the apparatus in minutes. Greg Nyce and Clyde
Snyder were suspended two stories above Seventh Street in an
aerial truck bucket when the flames from Shelly and Sons corporate
headquarters surrounded them. Firefighters below had to abandon
the truck and the two decided to risk hitting the electrical
lines to move the bucket to the building of the 14-21 N. Seventh
Street building. They jumped through the roof hatch to safety
at Miss Cindy's School of Dance.
| The fire continued out
of control and moved to the Herstine building, Perkasie Improvement
Building , and the Moyer-Kantner Funeral Home. Many business
and home owners on Market Street watered down their roofs fearing
the fire would continue down the street; but other than heat
damage, the fire went no further than the Kantner property.
View of fire on Market Street from Sixth Street.
| The fire
police and a coalition from the National Guard was used to keep
the growing crowds behind yellow safety lines.
|| Not only was the blaze
covered by the Philadelphia media, but reports on CNN were seen
throughout the country. Live coverage is seen at left by Channel
10 of the fire site the day after the fire.
million gallons of water were used to battle the fire. Tanker
brigades continuously provided water as miles of hoses stretched
through the downtown Perkasie area.
canvas pools were set up with trucks running continuously from
the East Branch of the Perkiomen Creek with refills.
| A dozen businesses
were destroyed and 36 people were left homeless. Many individuals
lived in apartments above Leshers (5 units), the American House
Hotel (12 apartments) and the Herstine building(5 units).
| View of
Herstine Building on Seventh Street after the fire.
|| The people living in
these locations lost virtually everything they owned.