On December 5, 1871 at 10:00 p.m. a fire was discovered in the agricultural implement store and warehouse of Messrs. Burbank and Rollins on Antietam Street by the watchman of the Washington County Railroad Depot. The first alarm was the frantic cry of the watchman. The engineer of a Baltimore and Ohio train that had just pulled into the station quickly sounded the whistle on the locomotive. A fierce gale from the south was blowing at the time and had been for several days. The business part of Hagerstown was in great danger! The location of the fire, on the extreme southern limits of the heart of the town, was well calculated to sweep the most valuable portion of Hagerstown. The Independent Junior Fire Company was quick to arrive on the scene. The members immediately pressed into service the equipment and apparatus. Also answering the summons for aid was the Antietam Fire Company. In its wake, as the flames spread from the agricultural implement store and warehouse, they reached St. John's Episcopal Church, which stood to the rear of the Court House on South Jonathan Street, (now Summit Avenue,) and then ignited the Court House itself. During the height of the conflagration, and after the cupola of the Court House was in flames, a number of firemen and citizens, with the pipe of the Junior Company, were in the great hall, second story, fighting desperately to save the fifty year old structure from devastation. Suddenly, the cupola fifty feet from the floor - fell in with aloud crash! Fireman John Fridinger, was crushed under the fallen burning beams and pinned fast. John Smith attempted in vain to rescue Fridinger! As a last effort to save him, Smith "pitched" a bucket of water over him. Then trying to draw him out, found it impossible to do so.The few remnants of the charred remains of Fridinger were recovered the morning of December 6 Fireman John N. Fridinger was 46 years old.