Johnston County Updates – New Rescue in Benson, New BC Truck in Clayton

Couple updates from Johnston County. The Clayton Fire Department has placed this utility truck in service as a new Battalion Chief vehicle. It’s designated BC1. Photos from fire photographer Jason Thompson.


2017-02-19-joco2Jason Thompson photos

Meanwhile, the Benson Fire Department has placed a new Rescue 1 in service, with Raleigh’s old 1991 Simon-Duplex/E-One haz-mat truck. It was received last year, has been refurbished, and is now in service. It replaces Rescue 50, 1996 Ford light rescue, which is now for sale. Fire photographer Lee Wilson took these pictures last week.

2017-02-19-joco3 2017-02-19-joco4Lee Wilson photos

The history of Raleigh’s rig?

  • Purchase price: $284,000.
  • Delivered June 10, 1991.
  • Placed in service as Haz-Mat 1 at Station 20 on August 14 or 15, 1991.
  • Relocated to Station 2 on November 5, 2004.
  • Changed to support unit in May-June 2006, after delivery of 2006 Freightliner/Hackney tractor-drawn replacement. Renamed SR 1.
  • Retired on February 6, 2013.
  • Sold in 2016.

Read more Raleigh fire apparatus history.

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B-52 Bomber Crashes in Davidson County – March 30, 1961

Found this while researching some other topics: the crash of a B-52 bomber near Denton, NC, in Davidson County on March 30, 1961. No nuclear weapons were aboard, but six of the eight crew members were killed. No one on the ground was injured.

The crash followed the January 24, 1961, crash of a B-52 bomber near Goldsboro. That’s the better-known incident from that year, as two nuclear warheads were aboard. See this blog posting from 2011 for that story.

This High Point Enterprise story was published on March 31, 1961, and appears on this GenDisasters page. Google finds a few more sources about the incident, including this page of Denton history.



Denton — A B52G jet, the Air Force’s giant atomic bomber, exploded and crashed near here at 9:15 last night, sending a ball of fire into the air which was seen 50 miles away. There were no atomic warheads aboard.

Two men are known to have survived out of a crew of eight. Near noon today rescue workers and Air Force personnel had found only two bodies.

One, discovered dangling from a tree a mile away, was identified as Capt. WILLIAM D. McMULLEN, 36, commander/pilot, of Bad Axe, Mich. He is survived by his wife and three children.

The second body, found a mile and a half from the gaping hole gouged out of solid stone by the crash, was not identified. Officials said it consisted only of a head and shoulders. Capt. McMULLEN was found shortly after the crash last night. The second victim was found at 8:30 a.m. today.

A foot and a portion of skull were also found in the vicinity, but it was not known whether they belonged with the two bodies or to another victim.

The casualties were:

Capt. WILLIAM D. McMULLEN, 36, commander/pilot, Bad Axe, Mich.

Capt. WILLIAM W. FARMER, 29, co-pilot, Wilson, N.C.

Capt. ROBERT M. MORGENROTH, 31, radar navigator, Christiana, Penn.

Capt. GEORGE W. BEALE, 34, competition observer, Bowling Green, Virginia.

Sgt. JAMES H. FULTS, 29, instructor gunner, Tracy City, Tenn.

Airman First Class ROBERT N. GASKEY, 28, Providence, R.I.

The survivors were:

Major WILBUR F. MINNICH, 40, Des Plaines, Illinois.

First Lt. GLEN C. FARNHAM, 25, electronics warfare officer, Loveland, Texas.

The survivors bailed out at 50,000 feet and landed six to seven miles away from the crash site. Major MINNICH, the navigator, suffered a dislocated arm when he bailed out. Lt. FARNHAM complained of back pains but was apparently unhurt.

The two stated that the plane, an eight-engined jet, was on a routine mission from Dow Air Force Base in Maine. Its destination was not revealed.

Minutes before the explosion the plane had attempted to make contact with a KC-135 jet tanker to be refuled in flight.

Col. Oscar V. Jones, commander of the 4241st Strategic Air Command Wing at Seymore Johnson Field, Goldsboro, stated that the bomber was in “the observation position 100 to 200 feet behind and below the tanker just before the explosion, but never made contact.”

Col. Jones arrived at the site before dawn today to take charge of operations. The B52 bomber which crashed near Goldsboro several weeks ago was in his command.

MINNICH and FARNHAM came to earth within several miles of each other and were given aid by people in the area. They were both taken to the Denton Clinic, where they were treated for injuries.

The exploson brightened the skies and shook the ground for miles around. Great stones were thrown high into the air and wreckage was scattered over a ten-mile area, setting fires in woods and fields.

Fire departments and rescue squads from Thomasville, Forsyth County, Randolph County, Davidson County and Guilford County rushed to the scene.

Their access to the area, located on the John Frank Farm four miles west of Denton and two miles south of Silver Hill mine, was hindered by literally thousands of people who flocked to the scene as if it were a college football game.

Automobiles lined both sides of the Old Mining Road from its intersection with Highway 8 to a point more than a mile from the dirt road leading to the crash site.

People brought their children and mothers carried little babies in their arms to the site of the crash.

The spectators began to arrive immediately after the explosion and continued in an increasing stream until they blocked the highways and had to be driven out by officers.

At 2:30 a.m. the heavy spectator traffic had subsided, but here and there through the woods one could see stragglers coming and going. Even then there were women with little children.

“I thought Judgement Day had come,” said John Frank, who, with his wife and two grown children, farm the rocky land where the plane fell.

“I heard this airplane and then it came, the explosion, and I thought it had fallen on the house and set it on fire,” said Mrs. Frank. “Rocks were coming down in showers.”

“It just paralized me,” said Frank.

The plane landed several hundred yards from the Frank home on the border between Frank’s farm and a farm owned by N. L. Lookabill.

The area was heavily wooded and the plane crashed in what appeared to be solid rock.

Trees were ripped up by the roots for hundreds of feet about the massive crater gouged out by the jet plane.

The crater measured roughly 150 feet in length, 50 feet across at its widest point and about 25 to 40 feet deep.

When reporters from The Enterprise reached the scene shortly after the crash, the entire area was ablaze from fragments of the plane.

As one approached the crater from the Frank home, the ground became more and more heavily littered with fragme

nts of metal, twisted grotesquely, none of large size.

Five hundred feet from the flickering, crackling hole, dust from pulverized rock, large stones and metal covered the ground.

Trees, many of them 10 or 12 inches in diameter, tood awry, their limbs broken and twisted, fragments of aluminum and othe debris hanging from the upper branches.

One hundred feet away the trees were bare of limbs and many were uprooted.

One eight-inch tree was hurled from the crash site, stripped of branches and jabbed into the ground 400 feet away, with its roots high in the air.

The crater itself was a sight which almost defies description. The odor of burning gasoline and charred flesh rose from a hundred little fires both inside and on the rim of the hole.

It was pitch dark, but within the rumbling hole flames of green, red and blue flickered and sputtered. At intervals a pocket of fuel would explode, sending spectators scrambling back into the charred woods.

Smoke rose heavily and sifted through the woods. At the site the ground was charred and stumps of trees burned slowly.

The largest portion of the plane visible in the vicinity was what appeared to be a wing section measuring about half the length of an automobile long and about six feet wide.

Portions of the eight jet engines lay smashed on the edge of the crater. A parachute, its red and white nylon fused together, was glued by the heat to the roots of a tree on the crater edge. It had never been opened.

Shortly after the crash Davidson County sheriff’s deputies located the body of an Air Force captain handing in a tree by his chute a half mile from the site.

Coroner Milton Block from Lexington said the man had been identified, but that his name would not be released until his family could be notified.

His head was crushed, said Block, and one leg was found at the crash scene lying near his ejection seat.

The crash and explosion startled people all over this section of the Piedmont. High Point residents saw the flash nd heard the rumble like thunder when the plane exploded.

Asheboro residents told reporters that streets there shook when the plane crashed.

Windows were blasted out of homes nearby.

Personnel in the control tower at Smith Reynolds Airport in Winston-Salem saw the flash.

Lt. FARNHAM, the first to bail out of the doomed plane, landed at the home of M. and Mrs. Aaron Crouse of Rt. 2, Lexington. “The first thing he asked for was a glass of water,” said Mrs. Crouse.

Major MINNICH, the navigator, landed in the highway near the home of Mr. and Mrs. Roy Arnold.

Mrs. Arnold said she was sitting on the porch sewing when the light from a flashlight shone through the shrubbery.

MINNICH called for help, identified himself, and was taken to Denton for aid.

At the Crouse home FARNHAM reached officals at Seymour Johnson AFB in Goldsboro. His call was thought to have been the first information Air Force authorities had of the crash.

Near midnight helicopters from as far away as Elizabeth City began to arrive to search the surrounding countryside hovering over the treetops shining giant floodlights on the ground in a vain effort to locate a parachute.

Reports of someone landing in a neck of High Rock Lake which bisects Highway 8 several miles from the scene proved false.

In the early hours today the area was roped off to prevent souvenir hunters from carrying off parts of the plane.

As dawn broke more helicopters and four truckloads of troops arrived to police the area.

Radio contact with the outside was maintained by the Thomasville Radio Club whose members were on the scene almost immediately after the crash with its mobile unit.

Officials of the radio club said that a “hot line” was being kept open between Seymour Johnson Field and the home of Bob Reed in Thomasville to provide direct communications between the base and the crash site.

Reed’s radio is in constant contact with the Radio club unit at the scene.

The $8 million jet, attached to the 341st bombardment squadron at Dow AFB, Maine, was the second B52G to crash in North Carolina this year.

The bomber which crashed Jan. 24 near Goldsboro was carrying two unarme nuclear devices, but the Air Force said the ship which crashed last night did not have any aboard. Three of the crew of eight were killed in the January crash.

The huge ships are considered the United State’s first retalitery striking force.

Brig. Gen. Perry Holsiniton, commander of the 820th Air Division at Plattsburg AFB, N.Y. arrived here today to lead the investigation.

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Wake County Rescue Squad Crash Trucks

Montage of Wake County rescue squad crash trucks. Missing some squads and some photos, alas. Makes, models, notes below. Pictures pulled from the History of EMS in Wake County Facebook page, and photo albums therein. Credits from here, there, and everywhere. Click to enlarge:


Left to right, top to bottom:

  • Apex #1 of 3 – 1970s (?) Chevy/____
  • [Not pictured] Apex #2 of 3 – 1984 Chevy/___
  • Apex #3 of 3 – 1994 Ford F-350 SuperDuty/____
  • Cary #1 of 2 – 1974 Ford/Reading. Later disposed to Fuquay-Varina RS
  • Cary #2 of 2 – 1983 IHC/Swab. Later disposed to Cary FD
  • Fuquay-Varina – 1970s (?) ___ panel van
  • Garner #1 of 7 – 1970s (?) ___/____, former CP&L utility truck, added 1975
  • Garner #2 of 7 – 1968 (?) ____, ex-Wonder Bread truck, added 1975
  • Garner #3 of 7 – 1970s (?) ____, panel van, added 1977
  • Garner #4 of 7 – 1984 Dodge/Reading
  • Garner #5 of 7 – 1992 Internationa/Hackney
  • Garner #6 of 7 – 1991 Ford/____, ex-Saddle River Valley RS, NJ. added 2006/2007
  • Garner #7  of 7 – 2007 Spartan/EVI 
  • Knightdale – 1970s (?) Chevy, added 1978
  • Knightdale – 1985 (?) Chevy/____
  • [Not pictured] – Northern Wake – Crash truck(s)
  • [Not pictured] – Six Forks #1 of 4 – Original crash truck
  • Six Forks #2 of 4 – 1970s (?) Chevy/Reading (?)
  • Six Forks #3 of 4 – 1994 Freightliner/Road Rescue. Disposed to Myrtle Grove FD in New Hanover County
  • Six Forks #4 of 4 – 2000s (?) Ford/Reading (?). Secondary/back-up unit.
  • [Not pictured] Wake Forest – Crash truck(s)
  • Wendell – 1960s? (?) ____/____
  • [Not pictured] Wendell – Later crash truck(s)
  • [Not pictured] – Zebulon – Crash truck(s)
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Vintage Photos of Haz-Mat Equipment – Raleigh, Cary

From your Monday enjoyment, vintage photos of haz-mat equipment from Raleigh and Cary.

This News & Observer photo of Raleigh’s haz-mat gear on October 24, 1984, as part of a demonstration of the city’s new haz-mat team. Comprised of personnel from Engine 2 and other fire stations, Haz-Mat 1 was placed in service on June 29, 1984. 

They operated a 1977 Chevrolet panel van, and were organized after a chemical fire in Charlotte in September 1982 forced the evacuation of several neighborhoods. That month, the Fire Marshal began compiling a list of haz-mat storage areas in the city. The following summer, the development of a haz-mat response program started.

Today, the Raleigh Fire Department has numerous haz-mat resources and personnel, including two tractor-drawn haz-mat units at Station 2 (HM1) and Station 27 (HM2), a recon unit at Station 8 (HM3), a decon unit at Station 22 (HM4), and a spill control unit and foam trailer at Station 2 (HM5).1 Click to enlarge:

Photo from the The News & Oberver – Raleigh, N.C., used with permission.

The Cary Fire Department also operated a haz-mat team for a few years. The short-lived squad was formed in 1986, and operated until about 1990. They transported their equipment in this 1986 Dodge step van. Alas, Mr. Blogger has recorded the backstory of their formation. Will make some inquiries. 

They were the second of three teams operating in Wake County, beginning in the 1980s. The Wendell Fire Department also organized a haz-mat team during the decade. Click to enlarge:

Courtesy Cary Fire Department

Here are closer views of their equipment. Click to enlarge:

2017-02-14-haz2  2017-02-14-haz2

1The Raleigh Fire Department also operates North Carolina Haz-Mat Regional Response Team 4, and some of their assets are state-provided, notably Haz-Mat 2 at Station 27. 

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Vintage Ad – Join the Fuquay-Varina Rural FD

Found in my files last week, while updating my Fuquay-Varina Fire Department history timeline. This advertisement appeared in one or more local newspapers. Undated, but probably published around the time of the rural fire department’s formation in 1954. 

Here’s that sequence.

  • 1925 – First fire department organized, likely named Fuquay Springs FD.
  • 1938 – Re-organized, now named Fuquay-Varina FD, though the community doesn’t officially changes it name until 1963. 
  • 1954 – Rural FD organized, to protect communities outside the town limits.
  • 1972 – Municipal FD merges into rural FD. Now one organization, though with town and rural divisions for a period of time.
  • 1999 – Rural FD merges into town.

Got it?

See also this gallery of historical photos of FVFD, posted on the Raleigh Fire Museum web site. Click to enlarge:


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New and Improved Raleigh Fire Department History Chart

This week in the History Lab, a new and improved Raleigh Fire Department history chart. Now with color, and expanded from 1912 to 1925. 

View the chart (PDF). Scroll down, to see the evolution of the design.


Here’s the evolution of the design. :


The chart is a two-page document.

The reverse side contains a decade-by-decade comparison of statistics in the 20th century, and current numbers for the department as of the last fiscal year.

View the chart (PDF).  

See also these similar charts from the History Lab:

  • Wake County EMS System Family Tree – JPG | PDF
  • Wake County Fire Departments – JPG | PDF
  • Western Wake Fire-Rescue – JPG | PDF
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Updates on Rebuilding Chapel Hill Fire Station 2

Demolition has started on Station 2 at 1003 S. Hamilton Road in Chapel Hill. The 1959 structure will be rebuilt as a two-story structure, erected as part of a public-private partnership that will include a four-story office building on the site.

See this CHFD photo album on Facebook, for more pictures of the tear-down. Or read this prior blog posting for information on the project.

Or see these walk-through photos by Legeros from December, during the last of three open houses held at the old fire station.

2017-02-02-chfdChapel Hill Fire Department photo

Engine 2 has relocated to a temporary facility, located around the corner at 204 Finley Golf Course Road. That opened around January 9. They’ll be there about a year. Here are a few more photos of the site, from Yours Truly.


2017-02-02-chfd3Chapel Hill Fire Department photo

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Vintage Photo of Holly Springs Rural Fire Department

Here’s a treat, an early photo of the Holly Springs Rural Fire Department, circa mid- or maybe late 1970s. (Trying to find a date on this one.) The picture was featured on the cover of a cookbook that they produced. It’s shown at the bottom of the posting.

Left is their 1974 Ford/Bean pumper, 750/750, which was the department’s first new apparatus. Right is a 1955 GMC tanker that the firemen converted from an ex-military vehicle. Click to slightly enlarge: 


The concrete block fire station was located at 1140 Avent Ferry Road, site of the current Holly Springs Fire Station 2. It was erected in 1971, expanded in the late 1980s, and operated until damaged by a tornado in 2011. The following year, a new fire station opened on the same site.

See more vintage photos, via the Raleigh Fire Museum web site. Or read my history of the department(s).


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Wake County Fire Commission Meeting – January 26, 2017

The next meeting of the Wake County Fire Commission is Thursday, January 26, at the Wake County EMS Training Facility, located in the basement of the Wake County Commons Building, 4011 Carya Drive in Raleigh. The meeting starts at 7:00 p.m.

Agenda is below. View the meeting documents.

  • Meeting Called to Order: Chairman Lucius Jones
    • Invocation
    • Roll of Members Present
  • Items of Business
    • Approval of Agenda
    • Election of the Fire Commission Chair for calendar year 2017
    • Election of Fire Commission Vice Chair for calendar year 2017
    • Adoption of Minutes for November 17, 2016 Regular Meeting
    • Presentation/Review of 2016 Fiscal Year Fire Tax District Not-For-Profit Fire Department
      Audit Reports
  • Regular Agenda
    • West Region Sub Committee Appointments
    • Disposal of Surplus Gear
  • Information Agenda
    • Fire Tax Financial Report
    • Standing Committee Updates
      • Administrative
      • Apparatus
      • Budget
      • Communications
      • Equipment
      • Facility
      • Staffing and Compensation
      • Steering
      • Training
    • Chair Report
    • Fire Services Director Report
      • Operations Director Report
      • Logistics Manager Report
  • Other Business
  • Public Comments
    • Comments from the public will be received at the time appointed by the Chairman of the Fire Commission for 30 minutes maximum time allotted, with a maximum of 3 minutes per person. A signup sheet for those who wish to speak during the public comments section of the meeting is located at the entrance of the meeting room.
  • Adjournment
    • Next Meeting March 16, 2017
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Vintage Photos of Henderson High School Fire, 1968

Passed along from our friends at the Henderson Fire Department is this Flickr album of vintage pictures of the Henderson High School fire on April 3, 1968. They were taken by Lyman McLean, a freelance photographer who worked for both the Henderson Daily Dispatch and the police department.

The shots are from his personal collection, and now part of the Vance County Historical Society collections. They’ve been posted to the Flickr album by Gill Glopton. Visit the album to see larger versions, and more photos. (See also Glopton’s Flickr page, for many more historical photos of Henderson and Vance County.)

2017-01-24-hfd3Lyman McLean photos, courtesy Gill Clopton/Vance County Historical Society

The fire started about noon, took about five hours to extinguish, and was confined mostly to classrooms and the library. And utilized a power company “bucket truck” (!) for second-story hose stream, as shown above.

The only injuries were two city firemen who were hospitalized with smoke inhalation. HFD and most (or likely all) Vance County fire departments responded. 

2017-01-24-hfd1Lyman McLean photos, courtesy Gill Clopton/Vance County Historical Society

The high-resolution pictures include a shot of Henderson’s 1940 American LaFrance 500 quadruple combination (or “quad”). Registration number L-1215, model 575 CDO, with a factory date of February 29, 1940. And five-man cab. The truck appears to have been subsequently scrapped, notes the Peckham database

2017-01-24-hfd2Lyman McLean photos, courtesy Gill Clopton/Vance County Historical Society

Below the text of an Associated Press story that appeared in the Danville Register the next day.

Fire Damages Henderson High School

HENDERSON, N.C. (AP) – Fire raged through a wing of the Henderson High School about noon Wednesday, leaving damage estimated unofficially at $200,000. About 850 students and members of the faculty escaped without injury but two Henderson firemen, Eugene Daniel and R. T. Robinson, were overcome by smoke and were hospitalized. The fire broke out on the second floor of the northwest wing of the T-shaped building while most students in the affected section were at lunch. Damage was confined mainly to classrooms and the school library. The fire was extinguished about 5 p.m. Officials said the school would be closed Thursday and there was no immediate decision on when or where classes would resume.

Most of the firefighting equipment of the city and that of Vance County volunteer fire departments was brought into action. Witnesses said the fire apparently started in the home economics department and spread to several classrooms. How the fire started was not certain. Downstairs, students filed orderly out of the building and into a slow drizzle of rain, thinking the alarm was only signaling a fire drill. Once outside they saw the smoke pouring from upstairs windows. The two-story, brick building is about 30 years old.

One student, Dennis Tharington, a senior, said the only students upstairs were a few who were studying in the library. “Coach (Albert) Capps was running up and down the hall upstairs telling everyone to get out, that the building was on fire,” Tharington said. Tharington said he was in a downstairs classroom when he heard the alarm. “We all thought it was just a regular fire drill, even though it was drizzling outside,” Tharington said. “But we all got out pretty quick. It was probably about two minutes before we were all out.

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