On 1/11/1988 a five-alarm building fire involving several first-floor rooms trapped occupants on the floors above the fire around 8:19 p.m. on East 50th Street, Manhattan, New York. The fire killed four residents, injured nine, and resulted in 70 people being rescued. Additionally, thirteen firefighters were injured in the 115’ X 100’ ten-story fire-resistive high-rise mixed-use structure. “The building was constructed in 1922, using poured concrete floor-ceiling assembly. The first floor was commercial areas, floors two through ten contained apartments, and the basement contained the heating system and laundry. The building was equipped with a passenger and a service elevator. There were two stairwells (A & B) located on the east and west sides. Stairwells began at the lobby entrance and terminated on the tenth floor, with exit doors opening on the roof. Windows were provided in both stairwells from ground level to the tenth floor, and a skylight was at the top of each stairwell shaft. There were several apartment units on each floor whose only entrances open directly into Stairwell B. The apartment separation walls, and corridor walls were constructed of solid masonry materials with painted wall surfaces. The building is equipped with a single 4-inch standpipe located in Stairwell A with a 2-½-inch hose valve located at each floor level. The building did not contain a sprinkler system, fire alarm system, emergency lighting, or illuminated exit signs. Most, if not all, of the living units, had a battery-operated smoke detector. However, the fire department personnel found that the majority of the detectors they were able to check after the fire either had dead batteries or were without batteries… The alarm was received by the fire department at 8:19 p.m. First-due units arrived on the scene within four minutes. When entering the lobby door, firefighters encountered heavy smoke rolling over their heads and coming from the direction of the first-floor waiting room area. A set of glass doors separating the waiting room from the lobby had completely melted. Using a 2-½-inch handline, firefighters began to work their way down the corridor. A second handline was placed in operation in the lobby toward Stairwell A. The door to Stairwell A had been left propped open allowing smoke and heat to quickly fill the upper floors of the structure. At 8:29, a second alarm was ordered with units that would be committed to rescue operations. Ground ladders were placed on the one-story foyer roof which via 50 occupants were eventually rescued. At 8:47, a third alarm, also for rescue, was ordered… By this time, the fire had been extinguished, but the building was still charged with heavy smoke. A fourth alarm was ordered at 9:15 to augment personnel in rescue operations. Smoke and byproducts of combustion spread to floors above because the first-floor access doors and both enclosed stairways were held open with wedges from the fire that originated in a first-floor office… The building was constructed under the 1920’s New York Building Code and currently falls under the New York State Multiple Dwelling Law. As long as the existing use is not substantially altered, the building is considered to “be in compliance” and not subject to fire protection upgrading. The Fire Department of New York conducts fire safety inspections of all buildings of this type and on previous occasions cited the building owners for propping open fire doors…The wood paneling in the doctors’ offices does not meet the current code; a sprinkler system would be required in the offices to “be in compliance.” However, the paneling was permitted as “decoration” over the old walls under the old code. Because the renovation did not exceed 20 percent of the cost of the building, the new code did not apply.”
On 1/11/1911 a Bronx, New York (FDNY) firefighter while operating at a single-alarm fire, was killed when he fell five floors, hitting clotheslines on the way down.
On 1/11/1916 a three-alarm fire in the State Street Methodist Church on State and Sixth Streets in Camden, New Jersey around 10:00 p.m. in frigid temperatures trapped firefighters from Engine 3, Chemical Company 1, and Ladder 1 while they were making an aggressive interior attack and a section of the roof suddenly collapsed. The firefighters were able to extricate themselves.
On 1/11/1934 “three Aurora, Illinois firefighters died while fighting a commercial fire in a Woolworth’s Five and Dime store on Broadway Street. The fire was reported around 11:30 p.m. Firefighters attacked the fire from both the street level and from the roofs of nearby buildings that were adjacent to the three-story, burning store. More than an hour after firefighting operations began, the roof of the building collapsed. The front exterior wall of the building collapsed outward shortly thereafter, and six firefighters were buried in the debris. Two were crushed to death when an exterior wall of the store collapsed.”
On 1/11/1938 a Baltimore, Maryland firefighter died while throwing a mattress from a second-floor rear porch after a dwelling fire. He lost his footing on some ice and snow, and fell over the railing, striking the concrete walkway below head-first. He was killed instantly.
On 1/11/1946 an Alton, Illinois firefighter died of smoke inhalation while fighting an apartment fire. “The Alton Fire Department received an alarm at 9:12 a.m. for a fire in a two-story house containing four apartments. Firefighters from Engine Companies No. 1 and No. 2 responded to the blaze, arriving to find one downstairs apartment engulfed in fire and smoke. Despite the thick smoke, firefighters attacked the blaze from the porch of the building and, after two hours, successfully extinguished the blaze. While the other apartments in the building sustained some water and smoke damage, the flames had been successfully contained in one apartment. During the firefighting operations, a firefighter with Engine Company No. 1, was overcome by smoke. He was taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital, but was pronounced dead on arrival.”
On 1/11/1948 a Baltimore, Maryland firefighter died in a fire started in an occupied two-story brick dwelling after a kerosene heater exploded. Firefighters were told that there were two people trapped on the second floor. A firefighter immediately went to the second floor to search. As he crawled into a second-floor bedroom through heavy smoke and heat, he collapsed and died.
On 1/11/1949 two Detroit, Michigan firefighters “died from smoke inhalation while operating at a fire.”
On 1/11/1974 three Saint Paul, Minnesota firefighters and a civilian were killed by a boiling liquid expanding vapor explosion (BLEVE). A stationary 11,000-gallon LP gas tank was being refilled when a fire started. “The BLEVE occurred after the arrival of firefighters as they were evacuating surrounding buildings and setting up master streams. The force of the explosion sent more than one-half the tank ricocheting off, destroying Engine 4 and then embedding itself in one of the apartment buildings. The other end of the tank bounced off the snorkel, causing heavy damage, and landed in a driveway. One firefighter was killed when struck by shrapnel and the smaller portion of the tank at the snorkel. He suffered a broken spine and massive internal injuries. Another firefighter was killed when he was struck and crushed by the larger portion of the rocketing tank that struck Engine 4. The third man was killed while he was manning the deck pipe on Engine 4. He was crushed as the tank struck the cab. The civilian was killed when she had both legs amputated by pieces of the tank.”
On 1/11/1985 an Amherst, New York firefighter died 69 days after he was injured while fighting a fire. Two firefighters “were manning a hoseline at the front of the building, when the roof suddenly and unexpectedly collapsed, and the front facade overhang fell outward sweeping the two men into the rubble. Both firefighters, who were buried under piles of concrete blocks and heavy roofing, were pulled from the debris by their fellow firefighters and rushed to area hospitals, both suffering from numerous, serious, life-threatening injuries. One firefighter, suffering from a broken back and paralysis, spent 96 days in the hospital, and survived the ordeal. The second firefighter fought for his life for 69 days but succumbed to the injuries on January 11, 1985. Clifford Zane, the son of the owner of Carpet Factory Outlet, was convicted of Arson and Manslaughter in the case and was sentenced to an 8-⅓ to a 25-year prison term by Judge Theodore Kasler.”
On 1/11/1997 a New Orleans, Louisiana firefighter became trapped by debris in a two-story residential structure fire on Felicity Street while searching the structure for victims and conducting an interior attack. The roof collapsed, and it was several minutes before firefighters were able to make a rescue attempt. He died shortly after arriving at the hospital.
On 1/11/2001 a Franklin, Pennsylvania firefighter died while operating at a manufactured home fire that was situated on top of a basement. Conditions in the interior of the structure began to deteriorate, and the decision was made to back out. As the firefighters attempted to exit the structure, they became disoriented due to loops in the hoseline, heavy smoke, and heat conditions. The firefighters got off the line and crawled into a room that had been added to the structure. The firefighters became separated. One firefighter broke through a window and made it to the outside. When he emerged from the structure, he was transported to the hospital. Unknown to firefighters on the scene, one firefighter remained in the addition. After 30 to 40 minutes of searching, his boots were seen a few feet inside the doorway of the addition. He was found bent backward over the top of a desk, his air supply had been depleted. He was wearing a personal alert safety system (PASS) device, but it was found to be in the “off” position. Other firefighters had passed by his location several times during the search but were unable to see him due to smoke conditions. He carried a portable radio; it was found in a pocket in the “off” position. The cause of death was listed as asphyxiation due to oxygen depletion within the SCBA (self-contained breathing apparatus).
On 1/11/2017 at least seven people were killed, and eight survived with severe burns after the office of a construction company caught fire in the Mehmood Boti area of Lahore, Pakistan. The fire started in the office in the afternoon, and within minutes, the blaze turned into an inferno and engulfed the whole building. The fire was caused by a short circuit on the upper floor.
On 1/11/2016 an arson fire in an Ohio house claimed the lives of a family of four including two daughters aged eight and twelve. A church deacon and his wife died alongside their children in a fiery explosion at their home in Northfield Center Township, Ohio two-story colonial-style home about 11:30 p.m.
On 1/11/2014 a historic Tibetan town (a quarter of Dukezong) burnt to the ground, 242 houses and shops were destroyed, and more than 2,600 people lost their homes. Fire engines were unable to get onto the narrow streets. Most of the buildings were made of wood and the fire spread easily because of dry weather, reports indicate that the fire-fighting system, which had been installed three years ago, was shut off at the time, in an attempt to prevent pipes from bursting in below-freezing temperatures.
On 1/11/2014 a Morningside Heights, Manhattan, New York, Citibank, a six-alarm fire burned for more than 30 hours that began at 5:20 a.m. on Broadway and West 111th Street in the basement. When the entire first floor sagged, firefighters switched to a defensive mode. The fire spread up and out through the walls of the two-story building resulting in the roof and the first floor partially collapsing. The Heights Bar and Grill and a deli suffered water and smoke damage.
On 1/11/1984 a mother and daughter were killed in a gas explosion that leveled their house in a suburban development in Lower Paxton Township, near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania shortly before 2:00 a.m.
On 1/11/1909 the Erricson Building in Palmyra, Wisconsin was destroyed by a fire that started in a ground-floor repair garage after an explosion around 4:00 a.m. The fire extended to the upper floor residential units in sub-zero temperatures.
On 1/11/1907 the S. R. Moss & Company Warehouses in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, a four-story brick building filled with tobacco, and the five-story brick cigar factory burned and spread to adjoining property of the American Cigar Company. The fire started from the falling of an electric arc light.
On 1/11/1892 the McClellan Opera House burned to the ground at about 10:00 a.m. and extended to the millinery store, Hotel de Paris, and several frame buildings on Sixth Avenue in Georgetown, Colorado. The fire started in the opera house while trying to thaw frozen pipes.
On 1/11/1883 several businesses were destroyed in Humboldt, Kansas after a fire started in the brick building of the Dayton, Barber & Company on Bridge Street, occupied by the grocery store, on the first floor, and law offices, an independent press printing office, and a residence in the upper floor. A lamp was left burning that exploded starting the fire in the dwelling unit. “To prevent the fire from spreading further, the cigar factory on the east side was torn down.”
On 1/11/1820 the Savannah, Georgia conflagration destroyed 463 houses when a fire broke out at the livery stable near the market. All buildings between Broughton and Bay Streets from Jefferson to Abercorn Street were destroyed except the Episcopal Church and the State & Planters Banks.