What was described as “wild storms” caused havoc and near panic in Jackson Township the night of July 23, 1954. Fire Chief Olin Rumfield was out of town leaving Assistant Chief Ed Story in charge.
This was a time when the township and the village had their own firefighting trucks housed in a building on Park Street. The township truck was red and the village truck was white.
The storm that hit the community was described as strong wind, hail, lightning and rain. Storms had hit the area several times in recent weeks. The local fire department had responded to numerous grass fires the week before. High winds from this most recent storm blew down power lines on Park Street, damaged businesses on Broadway and blew down trees in the Orders Road area.
During the storm, lightning caused a fire at the Otto Leithart farm on Stringtown Road. Township equipment was dispatched to the fire but the Leithart barn turned out to be a total loss. Volunteer Fireman Jack Peitsmeyer remained at the Park Street station with the Grove City fire truck ready to respond to any other fires.
Little time had passed until Peitsmeyer was responding to another barn fire on the Seeley property on London-Groveport Road. Lightning started another barn fire and threatened several other buildings. By the time he arrived, Franklin Township and Harrisburg fire departments were already on the scene.
This turned out to be a significant fire causing $10,000 in damage and destroying 770 bales of hay, double corn crib, a large chicken house and 100 chickens, 450 bushels of corn, 400 bushels of oats and other pieces of farm equipment.
Later, another large fire in Derby was visible in the night sky resulting in several false alarm calls. Because of the storm, electric power was out in many areas and many telephones were out of service. People with telephone service saw the glow of Derby fire in the sky and were making fire reports to areas where there was no fire.
Assistant Fire Chief Story told the Grove City Record the following day that people reporting fires must know the exact location of the fire before making a report. “If you must turn in an alarm, know the exact location even if you have to get in your car and find it,” Story said.