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From the Vault: News from the Wednesday, June 23, 1971, edition of the Press & Journal

Posted 6/20/18

Two Londonderry fires under investigation

Two barn fires of “suspicious” nature brightened the skies east of Middletown last Sunday morning, and investigations are underway by officials of …

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From the Vault: News from the Wednesday, June 23, 1971, edition of the Press & Journal


Two Londonderry fires under investigation

Two barn fires of “suspicious” nature brightened the skies east of Middletown last Sunday morning, and investigations are underway by officials of Londonderry Township and the State Fire Marshal’s Office. Overall damage could reach $150,000.

Destroyed in the two blazes at 2:30 and 5:30 a.m. were the barns of Palm City Mobile Homes, owned by Rufus Miner, and Arthur Lutz. The first structure is located near the intersection of Route 230 and Deodate Road while the Lutz barn is between the Middletown-Hum-melstown Road and Schoolhouse Road. It was originally owned by the late H.T. Christman, Middletown dairy owner.

The Palm City Mobile Homes fire at 2:30 a.m. destroyed the barn and severely damaged four mobile homes. One was badly burned with damage estimated at $10,000, while the other three sustained losses estimated at $1,500.

Ironically, Lutz, whose barn was destroyed three hours later, also had a considerable amount of material and equipment stored in the Palm City barn fire.

Lutz was not at home when his barn burned to the ground in a holocaust which illuminated the pre-dawn sky and could be seen for miles. His family was spending the weekend upstate.

Fire equipment was rushed to both fires from communities throughout the area. Middletown, Rheems and Elizabethtown assisted Londonderry firemen in battling the first blaze. When the Lutz barn was discovered ablaze, Hummelstown, Hershey, Lower Swatara and Middletown units again aided Londonderry.

Delays were encountered by firemen trying to reach the Lutz fire due to roadblocks erected by contractors building the new Route 283 in the area. Barriers were in place at the Middletown-Hummelstown Road at Schoolhouse Road. The latter road was also made impassable due to construction equipment on Schoolhouse Road.

This Sunday’s fires followed previous fires, also considered suspicious by fire officials. On May 10, an old school house in Conewago Township burned. On May 20, a barn burned on the farm of Vernon Kinsey, Hess Road, Elizabethtown R.D., with losses estimated at $110,000.

The Kinsey fire was termed by firemen a case of definite arson.

On June 16, a barn burned on the Mark Berrier farm in Mount Joy Township. The fire, with losses estimated at $12,000, was said to be of suspicious origin.

Lutz told the P&J his loss would exceed $100,000. A contractor, Lutz said he had large amounts of equipment, tools and building materials stored in the structure. Also destroyed were two antique automobiles, antique kitchen furniture as well as two tractors, a spreader, planter, bailer, boat, motor and trailer.

Prior to leaving home last Saturday, Lutz said he moved all his farm equipment inside the barn. Two sulky ponies and a litter of newborn kittens perished.

Heat from the barn fire threatened a nearby corn crib, garages and a mobile home. Firemen kept these structures wetted down.

Fruit trees, shade trees and a hedge were turned brown by the heat.

Lutz said the barn was built in the 1890s. Assisting Londonderry Fire Chief Larry Ierley in the investigation is Detective William Sweet, of State Police Troop H, assigned to the Carlisle substation.

526 awarded degrees at Capitol Campus ceremony

Degrees were conferred on 526 graduates last Saturday during commencement ceremonies at The Pennsylvania State University's Capitol Campus here.

A total of 490 students received baccalaureate degrees, while 30 students received advanced degrees. Seventy undergraduate students were graduated with honors, having attained at least a 3.40 average. out of a possible 4.00 average in their two years of study at the campus — an upper-division college with programs beginning at the junior year level.

Area students receiving degrees were:

Middletown — Eugene Earl Clews, bachelor of business; Helen Ann Drobniak, bachelor of elementary education, with distinction; Sherman John Edwards, bachelor of technology; Karen Ann Fager, bachelor of elementary education; Frank Paul Hollenback Jr., bachelor of social science; William Rockaway Keener, bachelor of social science: John Joseph Milkovich III, bachelor of humanities: George Stephen Shelling, bachelor of technology; Francis David Supsic, bachelor of technology: John Joseph VanShura Jr., bachelor of business, with highest distinction; Merkel Friedman Weiss, bachelor of technology; Larry Charles Wimmer, bachelor of technology; John C. Booser, master of regional planning; and Niranjan V. Shah, master of engineering.

TMI work slowed by strikers

Construction progress on Met Ed’s Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Stations remains af-fected despite the return of carpenters to work earlier this week.

A Met Ed representative at its Reading office told the Press & Journal, “We’re not commenting on the situation” and said it is up to United Engineers to report on the matter.

A spokesman for United Engineers reported workers in two crafts — operating engineers and cement finishers — remain on strike. Although carpenters have signed and new contract and are gradually reporting to work, the spokesman added, “There’s a lot of work we can’t do because of the absence of engineers and cement workers.”

Carpenters, engineers and cement workers went out on strike on May 1. Construction progress has been affected on the huge electrical generating complex where the first of two stations is scheduled to be completed in 1972.

The spokesman told the P&J he wouldn't venture a statement on how much the work stoppage has affected the construction schedule. When United Engineers moved last week to impose an injunction, operating engineers removed picket lines Monday morning.

Three Mile Island, when functioning normally, employs almost 2,000 people.

Area merchants and proprietors of service establishments have noted a sharp cutback in business as a result of the strike.

Headlines from the edition

• Legion team adds 6th win; 2 games here this weekend

• Rev. Roach gets Ebenezer pastorship

• Orr & Sembower cops 1st half teener league title

Hot buys

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