6/5/1946 sixty-one died and over 200 were injured at the LaSalle Hotel, located at the intersection of LaSalle and Madison Streets in downtown Chicago, IL as fire swept through the 22-story, 1,000 room, “largest, safest and most modern hotel west of New York City” built in 1909; many of the victims suffocated, some were rescued by jumping into nets or by ladders. The fire spread from an elevator shaft to an adjoining cocktail lounge and within seconds extended to the ornate lobby. Most of the rooms were occupied when the fire started at around midnight. “Investigators were unable to pinpoint the cause of the fire, but it originated either behind the walls or in the ceiling of the Silver Grill Cocktail Lounge, a bar adjoining the LaSalle Hotel lobby. Customers soon noticed the smell of burning wood, and when small flames shot up from beneath the lounge’s wood-paneled walls, there was an unsuccessful attempt to extinguish the fire using seltzer water and sand. The fire department was not immediately alerted, and during this time the flames spread through the walls and ceilings, fed by the elaborate, highly varnished wood paneling throughout the lounge, the two-story hotel lobby, and the mezzanine balcony overlooking the lobby… The fire department received the first report of the fire at 12:35 a.m., fifteen minutes after the flames were first discovered. The fire department arrived minutes later with Engine 40, Hook and Ladder 6, and Squad 1, and immediately pulled a 2-11 alarm when he saw the wall of flames in the hotel lobby. A few minutes later, a 5-11 alarm was ordered, bringing more than 300 firefighters to the scene. By this time, the fire had spread up two open staircases to the third, fourth, and fifth floors, and smoke filled the building… More than 150 hotel occupants were rescued from the lower seven floors via fire department ladders, and a majority of guests, 900 in all, were able to escape using the hotel’s extensive network of fire escapes. Of the sixty hotel occupants who died, a majority were killed from smoke inhalation during the first minutes of the fire. The loss of life was blamed on the extensive combustible woodwork throughout the hotel lobby, and the lack of fire protection systems, including sprinklers, detectors, and fire alarms. The LaSalle Hotel Fire also prompted the city to begin installing two-way radios into all fire apparatus… A Battalion Chief, commander of the 1st Battalion, was fatally injured while fighting a 5-11 fire at the LaSalle Hotel. He led a group of firefighters into the building to search for victims once the flames in the lobby were under control, but a portion of the mezzanine collapsed onto the firefighters. The trapped firefighters were rescued, but it took another thirty minutes before the lobby fire was completely extinguished and even more time to extinguish the flames on the floors above. He was transported to a hospital, but died, having been overcome by smoke.”
6/5/1925 a Philadelphia, PA firefighter died from injuries he sustained after falling through a roof at 31st and Chestnut Street. “A spectacular five-alarm fire involved a block of factories, including a water company a paint factory, a plumbing supply warehouse, a metals plant, and several others.”
6/5/1998 two Brooklyn, New York (FDNY) firefighters, “along with other firefighters, were conducting a search on the second floor of a commercial/residential structure. A civilian fire victim had been reported to be trapped in the area. Without warning, the second floor collapsed into the fire area on the first floor, trapping firefighters in a live fire on the first floor. Two firefighters died and four were seriously injured. The civilian fire victim had escaped through a back entrance.”
6/5/2015 an explosion at a packed gas station killed 150 people in the capital of Ghana. “Days of torrential rain blocked Accra’s ageing drainage system and flooded the streets, forcing hundreds of workers who were unable to return home to seek shelter at the station in the early hours of Thursday. A spark ignited leaked fuel, incinerating 96 people before they could flee.”
6/5/2014 an early morning fire tore through three adjacent two-story townhouses at 205 Chestnut Avenue on Staten Island, (NY) that injured thirty-four people including two young children who were tossed out of a second-floor window. Twenty-three firefighters and eleven civilians suffered injuries.
6/5/2009 Hermosillo, Mexico thirty-eight children ranging from 6 months to 5 years old were killed in fire at a day-care center that started at tire depot and spread to the ABC day-care center occupied by about 100 children.
6/5/1982 Portales, NM a predawn explosion and fire in a home killed five, four of them children. A “manager of Gas Company of New Mexico’s office in Portales, said his crew was called out a month ago when a contractor digging a ditch along the curb disturbed a natural gas line entering the home.”
6/5/1919 Wilkes-Barre, PA a coal mine disaster, an explosion and fire, left seventy-eight dead.
6/5/1909 Duluth, Minnesota the four-story Knox Building was destroyed by fire.
6/5/1909 near Detroit, Michigan the 226-foot long wooden steamer Iron Age burned to the water-line ten miles southeast of Par Point on Lake Erie.
6/5/1904 Schriever, LA conflagration, started in the Schriever Hotel, all but two stores were destroyed or damaged.
6/5/1903 New Lisbon, WI conflagration, two blocks of buildings were entirely destroyed.
6/5/1903 Phoenix, AZ a dynamite car on a freight train exploded on the Santa Fe, Prescott & Phoenix Railroad.
6/5/1890 Philadelphia, PA an explosion on the tank steamer ‘Hans and Kurt’ killed three. “The explosion set fire to the vessel and wharf property, almost destroying the former and burning a brick storage building.”
6/5/1870 a section of the city of Constantinople (Istanbul), Turkey, was set on fire. “When the smoke finally cleared, 3,000 homes were destroyed, and 900 people were dead. The fire began at a home in the Armenian section of the Valide Tchesme district. A young girl was carrying a hot piece of charcoal to her family’s kitchen in an iron pan tripped, sending the charcoal out the window and onto the roof of an adjacent home. The fire quickly spread down Feridje Street, one of Constantinople’s main thoroughfares. The Christian area of the city was quickly engulfed. There was a high degree of cooperation among the various ethnic groups who called the city home, but even this was no match for the high winds that drove the rapidly spreading fire. An entire square mile of the city near the Bosporus Strait was devastated. Only stone structures, mostly churches and hospitals, survived the conflagration.”
6/5/1829 Brooklyn, NY explosion of the Frigate Fulton left twenty-four dead.