Ellendale has witnessed the most heroic act by an ordinary man in this country town. His name is David H. Reed and the incident came about in a most remarkable way.
Harry W. Jester has just finished his handsome new home and erected a cedar water tank on a 30 foot high tower in the barn yard from which to furnish running water to home and shed. There is a gasoline engine pump below it to send water up into it. Beneath the tank and its platform is a two foot space containing charcoal to help keep a freeze away. But during a severe period of cold weather the pipes did freeze and Mr Jester had Joseph Ennis, with his blow torch thaw out the pipe, and, set the charcoal afire which only smouldered until the high wind on Thursday. The next anyone saw was a twenty foot high flame all around the water tank and it was quickly seen this had to stopped, and now.
The finest homes and the total town of Ellendale could be wiped out real fast. Everyone was in a panic, the women screaming, men busy removing valuables from the houses, but here came David. He started the gas pump motor, pumped water to the burning tank , climbed the tower, with bucket in hand, and from the pipe threw water on to the flames which were at times catching his coat on fire. Everyone watching calling for hm to come down, stayed with the flames which ceased came down with his coat aflame, covered with a sheet of ice on his face and charred hands, calm as he always was, appearing to be none the worse, but did become somewhat ill, taken home by Uncle Joe Smith for a bit of stimulant and a change of clothing and in a short time was about and chipper as a lark.
Later the evening he was met with many thanks after being recognized as the savior of Ellendale to which he replied, “all in a days work. I have simply done my duty, say no more”.
Source: The pen of the correspondent of the Milford Chronicle.
Wilmington Every Evening, Monday January 17 1910