Bonds Forged in Fire
The volunteers who respond to coastal Sussex emergencies share a burning desire to serve the community. But they face a growing challenge: development.
By Chris Beakey
From the August 2018 issue
The oceanfront house on Sand Dune Drive, like many in the off-season, was empty when it caught fire in the early morning of March 13. Chuck Snyder, chief of the Rehoboth Beach Volunteer Fire Company, was roused from sleep by the dispatcher’s call at his home just east of Route 1 at approximately 3 a.m. The eastward sky was already glowing from the blaze when he crossed the canal bridge five minutes later.
By the time he arrived, the fire had spread to a second house, the brisk northeast winds off the ocean feeding flames that devoured walls and roofs and virtually everything else in their expanding path. Sirens screamed through the air as 16 local fire companies responded, their trucks loaded with 120 men and women pulled from their beds in the middle of the night.
Launching a New Tradition
Lewes’s unsanctioned fireworks were snuffed out last July, but a spirit of cooperation has ensured dazzling things to come
By Jeanne Shook | Photograph by John Hoyt
From the June 2018 issue
Lewes Chief of Police Tom Spell admits that he was “the Grinch” who stole the 2017 Fourth of July fireworks.
For many years, Lewes Beach had been the site of unsanctioned displays that, according to Spell, had “gotten bigger and more potentially dangerous” with each holiday. Last summer’s first official ban on such unauthorized events was set in motion when the Office of the State Fire Marshal urged the city — not for the first time — to take action. Despite a history of non-compliance with regulations governing fireworks, the city had been “very fortunate that we didn’t have any serious injuries,” admits Lewes Mayor Ted Becker.
Delaware is one of only three states, including Massachusetts and New Jersey, prohibiting the sale of fireworks.
By law, fireworks displays sanctioned by the state must be professionally conducted by companies with the proper permits and licensing. Over the years, the fire marshal’s office made numerous attempts to curtail the illegal pyrotechnics along Lewes Beach, but no action was ever taken until last June. According to Michael G. Chionchio, the assistant state fire marshal, his office decided to “give it another shot” and initiated a meeting with Spell and Lewes City Manager Ann Marie Townshend.
A Beachcomber’s Bounty
Mollusk architects, fiber makers and marine hunters created our sandy souvenirs. Here’s a veteran collector’s guide to their stories.
The treasures we find at the beach are all elements of an ocean’s story; the shoreline is the introduction where we meet some of its characters and are given clues to their far-reaching communities. When you consider the millions of mollusk shells that tumble to shore, you realize that the world’s coastlines are bejeweled beyond measure. What we spot as we look through sand and seaweed is only a hint of the world beneath the waves, of how snails and clams and other creatures survive and interact.
Frank Lloyd Wright sometimes placed seashells before him at Sunday breakfast, and spoke with reverence to those gathered about the animals’ design solutions. From the spherical to the triangular to the fancifully swirling, mollusks’ shells exhibit an astonishing capacity for variation — they’re architects of the sea, building magnificent homes that they add on to as they grow.