1/12/1908 the Rhodes Opera House in Boyertown, PA fire killed 171 during a church-sponsored play in the 2nd floor auditorium when a kerosene lamp was knocked over and extended to a stereoscopic machine fueled by gasoline. Actors hearing the commotion lifted the curtain to investigate and the heavy pole at the bottom of the curtain knocked over the tank of kerosene supplying the footlights that exploded into a sheet of flame running up the flimsy curtain and scenery. Most of the exits were either unmarked or locked.
1/12/1951 “four Chicago, IL firefighters were fatally injured in an explosion and subsequent structural collapse while fighting a fire in a four-story office and warehouse building at 320 North LaSalle Street. Seven other firefighters and two civilians were injured by the blast. The fire began in the lower levels of the 75-year-old building, before spreading through the elevator shafts to the upper floors. The fire was reported to the Chicago Fire Department around 2:04 p.m., after which a 5-11 and subsequent special alarms were eventually ordered. The smoke and flames emitting from the structure could be seen for miles around and drew crowds of spectators to the scene. After burning for thirty minutes; however, the fire caused a substantial explosion that toppled a wall onto firefighters operating hoselines on fire escapes and ladders in an alley outside the building. The special alarms brought 68 pieces of equipment to the site, including all but one of the department’s ambulances. In order to allow the fireboats to navigate the river, the La Salle Street Bridge remained up for 54-hours as the fire burned. More than 300 firefighters were on the scene and as many members of the local law enforcement worked to control the crowds. Firefighters stayed on the scene for several days as the fire reignited periodically in the rear area of the wreckage. The explosion was initially blamed on fifty-five gallons of lacquer thinner in storage on the fourth-floor of the warehouse, but later investigations showed that the explosion had probably been caused by excessive dust circulating through the elevator shafts. Witnesses later confirmed that the dust contained combustible materials such as paint particles. Property damages from the fire were estimated at $1.5 million.”
1/12/1905 a Chelsea, MA firefighter died during the Academy of Music fire when the weakened building began to collapse. All firefighters escaped with their lives except one, who was trapped and killed by a falling wall.
1/12/1919 a Chicago, IL firefighter died “while fighting a basement fire in a commercial building on Kedzie & Fullerton Avenue. The fire started when a furnace pipe overheated. Subsequently, the heat from the fire melted a water pipe and a gas main. Despite the rising water and the release of gas fumes, he led four firefighters into the basement in an effort to extinguish the fire. The firefighters attempted to exit the basement once the water reached their shoulders, but they were disoriented by the gas fumes. Firefighters from Squad 2 were able to pull four of the firefighters out of the basement before they lost consciousness, but one firefighter passed out and slipped under the water. Squad 2 moved quickly to rescue him, but he was dead by the time they recovered his body.”
1/12/1931 a Brooklyn, New York (FDNY) firefighter “died as a result of severe smoke inhalation sustained while operating at a fire on October 9, 1930.”
1/12/1937 a Cambridge, MA firefighter died “while operating at a fire in a store, he died as a result of injuries he sustained.”
1/12/1942 a Cambridge, MA firefighter “died during a three-alarm fire that involved a theater, a hall and a store. He was killed when he was caught under a collapsing wall.”
1/12/1944 a Toledo, Ohio firefighter burned to death at the Colony Block fire.
1/12/1952 a Saint Paul, MN firefighter “died from inhaling phosgene gas January 3rd at fire in dry cleaning shop, 306 Rondo.”
1/12/1955 an Upper West Side, Manhattan, New York (FDNY) firefighter “died from injuries he received while operating at Brooklyn Box 5-5-1642 fire.”
1/12/1956 a Highland Park, IL firefighter died “while fighting a residential fire on Leslie Lane. He collapsed as he and two other firefighters were operating a hose line on the roof of the garage attached to the burning house. On-scene efforts to revive him were unsuccessful, and he was transported to Highland Park Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.”
1/12/1963 two Philadelphia, PA firefighters “were killed while operating at a fire in a school. They were killed when they were caught under a collapsing wall.”
1/12/1963 a San Francisco, CA firefighter “died of injuries he sustained while operating at an apartment house fire at 26th and Irving.”
1/12/1992 a Morningside, Prince George’s County, Maryland firefighter died while fighting a dwelling fire at 3807 Walls Lane. “He entered the house and rescued a 7-year-old boy who was trapped inside. He went back inside to search for other reported trapped occupants. He went down the steps of the basement where shelving fell on him, knocking off his mask and helmet. He then became disoriented and trapped by debris and was unable to escape, and died in the Line of Duty.”
1/12/2019 two Paris, France firefighters died from injuries from an explosion. “At 8:00 p.m., the brigade’s rescue was alerted for a smell of gas felt in the floors of a residential building located at 6, Rue De Treviso in the 9th arrondissement of Paris. About 10 minutes after their presentation at the scene, a very violent explosion followed by fire occurred, causing very significant damage to all surrounding buildings. Two firefighters were seriously affected. Evacuated in cardio-respiratory arrest and despite the rapid care provided, they unfortunately did not survive their injuries.”
1/12/1912 with “temperatures well below zero, it did not deter Milwaukeean’s (Milwaukee, WI) from watching the action at the Bitker Department Store fire at 18th and Fond Du Lac Avenue. When the fire was out, firefighters had to contend with equipment, including apparatus, frozen in place. This was the second of three major fires in the same building.”
1/12/1917 two people were killed and twelve injured when 400,000 pounds of powder was destroyed by an explosion followed by a fire at the DuPont Powder Company in Haskell, a remote part of Passaic County, NJ at 9:30 p.m. The fire spread quickly to the blending house and three magazines, one of which exploded, and set fire to the screening house. The fire extended across Wanaque River consuming three drying houses. Many buildings in the plant and the village were shattered by the force of the concussion.
1/12/1917 Kingsland, NJ a munitions explosion left 800 homeless when the Canadian Car and Foundry Company caught fire late at night. The plant produced tons of prinytrotoluol, a powerful of explosives, used in making high power shells. “Thirty-nine frame buildings, comprising the plant, were set ablaze and the explosions of the shells stored there could be heard for miles. With the issuance of orders for the people of Kingsland to leave their homes, the police were instructed to shoot down possible looters who refused to surrender upon command. About fifty arrests were made.”
1/12/1964 Attleboro, MA a chemical plant explosion and fire killed six and injured scores, destroyed three of six buildings covering 15-acre site that raged out of control for hours. The first explosion occurred in the building where poly-vinyl-chloride resin was produced “used in the manufacture of various plastics, including phonograph records.”
1/12/1984 just after 9:25 p.m. a fire discovered involving furnishings in an exit access corridor at the Beaumont Nursing Home in Little Rock, Arkansas. When the fire department arrived at 9:38 p.m. fire was showing in the northeast corner of the building and the nursing staff had evacuated fifty-seven patients from the home; however, two patients died and 12 were injured. The ordinary construction one-story nursing home had been built in two separate sections separated by a four-hour fire wall and was protected by an automatic fire sprinkler system, but the water supply had been shut-off. Additionally, the automatic smoke detection system was not functioning properly and there was a delay in the notification of the FD.
1/12/2015 a subway accident in Washington, D.C. left one woman dead and eighty-four transported to local hospitals “after the train stopped, went dark and filled with smoke in a tunnel downtown” on a Virginia-bound Metro train “which had just left the L’Enfant Plaza station when it came to a halt about 150 feet into the tunnel” around 3:30 p.m.
1/12/2016 the historic mansion in Chadds Ford, PA, built in 1821 and known as the “Rocky Hill Castle” was gutted by a fire. Firefighters had difficulty reaching the stone building located on a heavily wooded property.
1/12/2017 a fire in northeast Baltimore, Maryland left six children dead, and three other children and their mother injured. “The fire started just after 12:30 a.m. Arriving crews found flames coming from all three floors of the home. By the time firefighters got to the scene three minutes after the initial call, the fire had become so intense that the third floor collapsed. Firefighters couldn’t go in to save the children inside.”
1/12/2017 three children (11, 7 and 5 years) were killed in Opelika Alabama mobile home fire, the mother was burned trying to save them. Two other children found inside the residence (aged 9 and 5 years) remain on life support. The mobile home fire was reported at 4:20 p.m. The five children were found in bedrooms inside the mobile home.