FIREFIGHTER HISTORY 1/20

On 1/20/2004 a nursing (retirement) home fire in Maryville, Blount County, Tennessee killed three and injured twelve residents hours after passing a surprise inspection. Built before 1997 in a converted one-floor house, the nursing home was not required to have sprinklers. “Firefighters struggled in the bitter cold to put out a fire that spread through a retirement home, killing three residents and injuring at least 12 other people. The privately owned facility had 15 residents living in a converted one-floor house and offered assisted and unassisted living. The home did not have emergency sprinklers, authorities said. One resident died after being trapped in the home, a sheriff’s spokeswoman said. Some of the injured were treated for smoke inhalation and burns, and one suffered a hip fracture. Three were hospitalized in critical condition. Emergency workers fighting the blaze helped residents out of the facility shortly after 9:00 p.m. Tuesday as about a dozen ambulances converged on the ranch-style, brick building near Maryville, about 15 miles south of Knoxville. A fire hydrant was not available so firefighters fashioned a makeshift pool by dumping truckloads of water, then used the pool as their main water source. With temperatures in the 20s, firefighters had to put salt in the water to keep it from freezing. The fire took more than two hours to control. Most of the home’s roof collapsed, and its bricks were scorched. The fire came four months after a blaze at a four-story nursing home in Nashville killed 15 residents. That home, built in the 1960s, was exempt from state regulations requiring sprinklers. It wasn’t clear if the home that burned Tuesday fell under the state sprinkler exemption for nursing homes that haven’t been renovated since 1994. State records indicate it had been licensed since 1988 to provide the lowest level of care for the elderly. All the people living in the home “had to be able to do for themselves,” said a caregiver.

On 1/20/1880 a Brooklyn, New York firefighter died in a 7:00 a.m. fire that broke out at old Bushwich Avenue in Otto Huber’s Brewery. “The fire was under control in a half hour. Without any warning, one end of the building collapsed. Six firefighters, including the victim, were buried in debris. Firefighters worked to rescue them. All of them were recovered except one. He was finally recovered and was taken to Saint Catherine’s Hospital where he died 6 days.”

On 1/20/1917 a Seattle, Washington firefighter “died from the injuries he sustained after having fallen while fighting a fire at the Grand Theater on Cherry Street. He was severely burned and suffering from other injuries, but still alive when he was found. He expired in the ambulance from shock and burn trauma.”

On 1/20/1931 a Boston, Massachusetts firefighter died from the inhalation of smoke, heat, and gases suffered at 126-132 High Street (Box 1291), downtown, during a three-alarm fire.

On 1/20/1933 a Cranston Heights, Delaware firefighter “died from the injuries he sustained while operating at a house fire in the Brookland Terrace neighborhood.”

On 1/20/1959 a Villages of Bement, Illinois firefighter died during an ice storm while he was operating on a ladder at a suspected garage fire when the wind blew a broken, live electrical wire, into the ladder. He was electrocuted and succumbed to his injuries.

On 1/20/1961 a Boston, Massachusetts firefighter died from inhalation of smoke, heat, and gas at a basement fire in a nightclub, ‘Bason Street South’, at 1844-46 Washington Street, Box 211, in the south-end, during a two-alarm fire. He was found in the basement under a table, after becoming disoriented.

On 1/20/1961 a Queens, New York (FDNY) firefighter “died as a result of injuries sustained while operating at a two-alarm fire.”

On 1/20/1962 a Chicago, Illinois firefighter “was killed while fighting a fire in a vacant apartment building at 855 West Belden Avenue. He was overcome by smoke and collapsed while moving a hose line into the basement of the building.”

On 1/20/1987 an Altoona, Pennsylvania firefighter died from smoke inhalation

 On 1/20/1997 a Terlton, Oklahoma firefighter “died of thermal burns while rescuing two children from an overturned dune buggy.”

On 1/20/2003 a Fannett Township, Franklin County, Pennsylvania, firefighter “died in a fire in a large residential fire. During overhaul, firefighters moved into the structure to locate and extinguish hot spots. A number of firefighters were in the structure when a centrally located chimney collapsed and brought down the second floor of the structure onto firefighters. Three firefighters were trapped by the collapse; one was able to self-extricate. One firefighter was removed and suffered minor injuries. The third firefighter was severely injured, he was found to be without a pulse and not breathing.”

On 1/20/2005 a Summit Township, Jackson, Michigan firefighter “died while searching the upper floor of the residence without a hoseline. After firefighters had been on-scene for approximately 20 minutes, fire conditions deteriorated rapidly and trapped two firefighters. One firefighter (the victim) ran out of air and was attempting to buddy-breathed with the other firefighter when he fell to the floor. The fire was caused by the spontaneous combustion of oil-soaked rags that had been stored in the basement of the home. Three other firefighters were injured during the fire.”

On 1/20/2014 a plant explosion in Omaha, Nebraska, triggered a partial building collapse that killed two people and injured ten others. A spokesperson for the federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration said that the agency had cited the company in the past for six violations involving electrical safety standards and machine guarding, which protects workers from losing limbs or being crushed.

On 1/20/2009 a 65-year-old woman, her 24- and 14-year-old granddaughters, and her two-year-old great-granddaughter died in a Baltimore, Maryland home fire, there were no smoke alarms in the house.

On 1/20/1983 a fire at the Jefferson Dormitory on the campus of the College of William and Mary, in Williamsburg, Virginia destroyed the entire West Wing of the building, the attic, and the roof. The fire also caused extensive damage to the East Wing of the structure around 1:13 a.m. Prompt use of the manual fire alarm system and quick evacuation of 184 occupants resulted in no injuries. The fire spread through non-fire-stopped, non-sprinklered combustible concealed spaces, in the sprinklered building. After 1-½ hours of interior firefighting efforts, crews withdrew when the floor of the corridor on the first floor collapsed and cracks formed in the exterior bearing walls.

On 1/20/1980 the Phillips refinery near Borger, Texas was destroyed by a hydrocarbon explosion and fire that damaged the industrial area and some nearby homes.

On 1/20/1980 the bleachers at a bullring in Sincelejo, Colombia, collapsed; 222 spectators were killed and hundreds more were injured during a bullfight. The collapse was the result of overcrowding and poor construction.

On 1/20/1910 the north side of the town square of Snyder, Texas was destroyed by a fire that started on the upper floor of the grocery store around 6:00 a.m.

On 1/20/1908 the City Hall and police station of Portland, Maine burned to the ground and endangered the lives of 700 persons attending the Pythian Jubilee.

On 1/20/1898 a fire in East Grand Forks, North Dakota destroyed “the finest saloons in the city, a transfer elevator and the bridge approach” just before 4:00 a.m.

On 1/20/1907 a creosote plant near Norfolk, Virginia was destroyed by fire when a spark from a locomotive of the Norfolk and Western Railway set fire to the grass near the plant. “Seventy-five thousand gallons of creosoting fluid in the tanks exploded and 2,500 barrels of the oil were consumed.”