1912 Baltimore: ‘He Drove A Wagon of Fire’

In August 1912, Frank O’Rourke was driving a Salvation Army wagon filled with old newspapers on Ostend Street in Baltimore when he heard people shouting “Fire!” He didn’t think much of it. And he didn’t pay much mind when “[s]ome one ran to the corner and turned in the alarm.”

Little did he know what was happening behind him. According to an article in The Baltimore Sun, “[h]is wagon was sending a blaze 20 feet skyward.”

He was still oblivious as a fire engine, wagon and hose truck chased after him. “…[I]t wasn’t until he felt his back scorching that he drove the wagon up to the curb, grabbed a hose from a boy who was sprinkling the pavement and put out the fire before the department could unlimber its apparatus,” according to the news report.

Although O’Rourke didn’t want them to, the firemen pulled the newspapers into the street and sprayed them to ensure the fire was out. “In a few moments, [O’Rourke] had things ship shape and pursued the even tenor of his way,” The Sun reported.

Talk about being calm under pressure! And with a headline like ‘He Drove a Wagon of Fire,’ how can you not read the story?

Source: The Baltimore Sun, August 8, 1912

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