7/9/1850 Philadelphia, PA a major fire killed eighteen civilians, ten firefighters, and destroyed close to 400 buildings. “The first great fire in the history of Philadelphia began in the afternoon. Surely the city’s most destructive conflagration during the 19th century, it started at a warehouse on the east side of Water Street, near the Vine Street Wharf on the Delaware River. The five-story structure between Vine and Race Streets (closer to Vine Street) was reportedly located at what then may have been numbered as 39 North Water Street and what is today approximately 237 North Water Street. It passed through what was one of the most densely-populated places in the Philadelphia at the time. The fire began when pressed hay stored in an upper floor of the warehouse somehow combusted. This did not cause much alarm, but several violent explosions of saltpeter—stored in the Water Street warehouse’s basement—spread the fire. Burning hay and flaming embers from the destroyed building flew in all directions; the wind carried bits of smoldering sulfur (stored at an adjoining building) all the way to Broad Street. The hot dry weather of that July certainly did not help matters. Very quickly, the resulting inferno extended southwards to Race Street, westwards past Front Street to Second Street, and northwards to Callow hill Street. Many people who lived within half a mile of the district packed their things and prepared for a sudden evacuation. The entire city was at risk of a devastating catastrophe that night. Mass confusion prevailed. News of the blaze was telegraphed across the United States and was even later reported in England. (Other big news of that day was the death of President Zachary Taylor in office.) More than 100 firemen from as far away as Newark, New York, Wilmington and Baltimore arrived to relieve native firefighters who had become exhausted by the heat and their efforts. The inferno—its light seen for thirty miles around—was subdued sometime during the night. The calamity injured about 100 people and took at least twenty-eight lives (accounts vary), including some killed in the street and in adjacent buildings as a result of the first great mighty explosion. Others were trampled in the chaos. Yet others drowned in the Delaware River from the shock of the main explosion or from purposefully jumping into the river to escape the devastation. Ten Firefighters were also among the dead. Property damage was variously estimated at between one and 1.5 million dollars. Three hundred and sixty-seven buildings, including an old Quaker meeting house used as a school, were reduced to ashes in some 18 acres. About 300 of the destroyed structures were small rowhome dwellings, leaving many poor families homeless. In a fairly uncommon civic action in that era, the Philadelphia City Councils appropriated $10,000 for the relief of survivors, and the Commissioners of Northern Liberties did the same. Local citizens also contributed some $31,000 for the assistance of those injured.”
7/9/1891 a Paterson New Jersey firefighter “was killed when a soda-acid tank exploded.”
7/9/1909 an Albany, New York firefighter was killed while operating at a fire.
7/9/1942 a Kern County, CA firefighter “died from the 3rd degree burns he sustained while operating at a fire.”
7/9/1943 “twin fires in a four-story manufacturing building at 149 West Superior Street led to the deaths of ten Chicago, IL firefighters. The Chicago Fire Department received the initial alarm around 8:30 p.m. on July 8, 1943, reporting that a fire had broken out on the second story of the building. The acting chief of the 2nd Battalion, was first on-scene officer and led the battalion into the building to douse the flames. He soon called in another alarm. The fire was soon extinguished, and the firefighters returned to their stations. No firefighters remained on scene to patrol the area due to a wartime personnel shortage.
Several hours later, a second fire was discovered on the fourth floor of the building, and at 1:59 a.m. on July 9, 1943, the second alarm was received by the Chicago Fire Department. Firefighters again entered the burning building with hose lines and were stationed on the stairwell landings. It was soon realized that the building was on the verge of collapsing and ordered the firefighters to evacuate the building, but the roof collapsed before they could escape. The firefighters on the landings fell with the stairs, and many of them ended up trapped in the basement by timber, bricks, and other debris. A portion of the building structure remained in place and, despite the threat of the bulging and cracking walls, firefighters immediately raced to free their comrades from the debris. The Fire Commissioner explained the fragile environment by stating, “Every man here is taking his life in his hands to save his buddy. Each of them in a few seconds might be in a worse position than the men they are trying to save.” After some time, however, the fire officers determined that it was too great a risk to continue removing debris from the structure as part of their rescue efforts. The firefighters also shut off most of their hoses, hoping to avoid further collapse of the structure. While waiting to find a safer way to rescue the trapped firefighters, the fire department dropped morphine down through the debris to the trapped firefighters. The fire department eventually decided to drill holes into the basement walls in an effort to reach the trapped firefighters. At 8:30 a.m., six hours after the initial collapse of the building, the first body was recovered. Over the next six hours, rescuers were able to extract both survivors and victims from the wreckage. In the end, ten firefighters died, and numerous others were injured. Investigations showed that firefighters had responded to two other alarms at the building in the months prior to July 1943, but no major concerns had been raised. The cause of the fatal fire was eventually determined to be related to a chimney leak from an incinerator in the basement of an adjoining building. The chimney was located between the walls of the two buildings and had been punctured by a joist support. Investigations also determined that paper cartons on the fourth floor of the building had contributed to the collapse of the building as the company on that floor had exceeded the maximum weight limit for its storage area.”
7/9/1953 fifteen firefighters were killed in a wildfire in the Mendocino National Forest in California. “A brush fire was reported in Grindstone Canyon several miles northwest of Elk Creek on the Mendocino National Forest. As the fire raged out of control, the Forest Service requested volunteers from the New Tribes Mission that was located about 25 miles south of the fire to help. That evening, the main fire was contained, and twenty-four men were sent down into the canyon to put out a spot fire. After this was accomplished, the crew sat down to eat their supper. They had just begun to eat when the wind shifted direction and the original fire jumped its line and started down the canyon. One of the firefighters from above ran down to warn the crew to get out of the canyon. Nine of the men scrambled up the hill to the firefighter who was warning them and made it to safety. The other fifteen men tried to run down the canyon to a road below but were overtaken by the rapidly moving fire. Fourteen firefighters from the New Tribes Mission and one Forest Service employee from the Mendocino National Forest lost their lives. The brush fire burned over 1300 acres before being brought under control on July 11, 1953.”
7/9/1999 a Washington, District of Columbia firefighter died after he was attacked by a dog. “He and his engine company were dispatched, along with other units, to the report of a fire in a densely populated area, at #50 Temple Court N.W., on July 7th. As he and other firefighters were searching for a fire, the firefighter was attacked from behind by an unrestrained pit bull terrier dog. He was injured by the attack and unable to walk. He was transported to a local hospital and scheduled for knee surgery to repair the damage caused by the dog attack. On July 9th, the day that his knee surgery was scheduled, the firefighter became acutely short of breath and unresponsive. Medical aid was provided, but he did not survive.”
7/9/2014 a Houston, TX firefighter “collapsed while operating on the second-floor interior of a 2nd-alarm burning residential structure. The fire broke out in the 1400 block of Mistletow Lane at Redbud. A Mayday was sounded, and the firefighter was quickly removed from the building by fellow firefighters. He was then transported to Kingwood Medical Center in extremely critical condition, with CPR in progress. The firefighter did not survive the injuries sustained in the incident.”
7/9/1942 Scott’s Run, WV a coal mine explosion killed twenty.
7/9/1892 West Berkeley, CA at the Giant & Gunson Powder Works an explosion shortly after 9:00 a.m. killed 104.
7/9/1852 a fire destroys 1,100 construction sites in Montreal, Canada and no one died.
7/9/1842 Lachine, QB (offshore) the Steamer Shamrock explosion killed sixty-two.
7/9/1982 a Pan Am Boeing 727 crashed in Kenner, Louisiana, killing 153.
7/9/1980 seven people died in a stampede to see Pope in Brazil.
7/9/1918 a train wreck near Nashville, TN killed 101 and injured 171.
7/9/1917 the British warship “Vanguard” exploded at Scapa Flow killing 804.
7/9/1868 Cleveland, OH a church construction accident killed two.
7/9/1815 the 1st natural gas well in U.S. was discovered.