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Jamestown Fire Department Honors Fallen Brethren, 90-Year Anniversary Of Richfield Oil Co. Fire

A historical picture of firefighters Oscar Bloom, Walter H. Kastenhuber, Raymond A. Allison and Harold D. Anderson was on display at the JFD Building One, Tuesday, during a memorial observation for the four fallen firefighters who lost their lives during the Great Richfield Oil Company Fire of 1934. Additional casualties suffered after the blaze was put out, and several firefighters were burned and maimed for the rest of their lives.

Bell One – Firefighter Oscar Bloom.

Bell Two – Firefighter Walter H. Kastenhuber.

Bell Three – Firefighter Raymond A. Allison.

Bell Four – Firefighter Harold D. Anderson.

Four solemn, individual, bell tones were rung Monday at Jamestown Fire Department’s Building One, at 10 a.m., for the firefighters who paid the ultimate price during the Great Richfield Oil Company fire of 1934.

Firefighters with the Jamestown Fire Department take a moment of silence to remember the four firefighters who lost their lives in line-of-duty, during the Richfield Fire of 1934, during a ceremony, held Monday, at JFD’s Headquarters. P-J Photo by Christopher Blakeslee

This commemorative ceremony marked the 90th anniversary of the Jamestown firefighter’s sacrifice, which was honored during a commemoration ceremony by on and off-duty, retired and current JFD firefighters, Mayor Kim Ecklund and spectators at JFD Building One.

“With a huge roar, two storage tanks let loose in rapid succession. Burning gasoline flowed across the ground and enveloped the nearest firefighters,” said Thomas J. Goodwill, Capt. Engine Five, retired. “It is said that the first two firefighters to fall were burned beyond recognition, FF Bloom and Alison.”

Goodwill continued to give a historical recap of the rest of the events.

“Much of the flame went up into the air, raining burning gasoline on the people below. Seven people died as a result of the fire, including three civilians. Two Jamestown firefighters (Firefighters Walter H. Kastenhuber, Harold D. Anderson) died at the hospital the next day.”

According to Goodwill, the firefighters who survived the Richfield fires were scarred for the rest of their lives, both mentally and physically.

Retired, Jamestown Fire Department’s, Capt. Tom Goodwill, Engine 5, gave a brief history and led the memorial ceremony, held Tuesday, for the firefighters who lost their lives battling the Richfield Oil Company Fire of 1934. P-J Photo by Christopher Blakeslee

“Fire Chief Clifton Beatty caught fire and put himself out by dropping and rolling. However, just then a burning firefighter collided with him and set the chief on fire again. Chief Beatty returned to duty and retired in 1936. However, he lived with his injuries until his death in 1969,” he said.

Goodwill continued.

“Fire Captain Lenard Carl Oscar Hendrickson, old Rescue Company Two, Engine Two, was severely burned in the fire. The Capt. Was treated at Jamestown General Hospital. His condition worsened, and he was taken to Gowanda State hospital to receive long-term care,” he said. “His suffering ended Aug. 16, 1945, still hospitalized more than eleven years later.”

Goodwill also explained how he met the son of one of the fallen firefighters earlier on in his career.

“I met Harold D. Anderson’s son, Burton L. Anderson, as I joined the department as a young rookie,” he said. “He was highly respected, and he retired as a captain after 30 or so years of service.”

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