'Night of Fire' celebrations in Oberhofen

03 July 2014 07:44
Oberhofen am Thunersee (SUI), home of the FIS headquarters
Oberhofen am Thunersee (SUI), home of the FIS headquarters -

Today, FIS headquarters sits in the thriving village of Oberhofen, Switzerland on the scenic Lake of Thun. But 150 years ago, the village was nearly completely destroyed when a fire ripped through the town burning nearly everything in its path.

At that time, on 26th June 1864, a large part of the village was run over by flames, including the area where the FIS Office sits today. A total of 73 buildings, including 35 homes, fell victim to the fire and were burned down to their foundations. An amazing 105 families with 414 people lost all their possessions and homes.

Although at the time, neighbours quickly sounded the alarm, the fire spread rapidly due to a strong wind. The small team of local fire department volunteers was unable to combat the growing fire. Within a few hours a large part of the town in full fire and quickly turned to ashes.

Exactly 150 years later, that same Volunteer Fire Department, located next door to the FIS headquarters, re-enacted Oberhofen’s darkest day by hosting the ‘Night of Fire’. The evening began with a historical look back at the fire that devastated the village. Then Oberhofen residents watched a pyrotechnic show that re-enacted the fire.

Christoph Stulz, FIS’ longest serving employee who serves as caretaker of the office building, is a native of Oberhofen and has strong ties to the Volunteer Fire Department, serving as deputy sergeant. He says it is important that the village marks the important day and always remembers that although Oberhofen is located in an ideal location, that history was not always so easy for the small Alpine village.