On 1/31/1945 the Lacoste Babies Home (an orphanage) fire killed seventeen (sixteen babies) in Auburn Maine. The privately-owned unlicensed boarding home was destroyed by a fire that originated in the kitchen around a coal stove. The home was boarding more than the maximum number of babies allowed under the state code, but no action had been taken to force compliance. “The 11-room “nursery,” which was formerly a farm building having an ell and a barn attached to the main structure, boarded children by the week, the mothers usually taking them home on weekends. The proprietor had been notified within two weeks previous to the fire, by the State Commissioner of Health and Welfare, that a license to operate the nursery for 1945 would be held up until she obtained a city certificate that her home was not a fire hazard. The Fire Chief said he had not received a request for a certificate, but added that the dwelling met all laws relating to exits and the care of babies on the first floor. The Chief said that technical violations had prevented the issuance of a permit, and asserted that one of the violations was the fact that the owner was boarding more than the maximum of sixteen babies prescribed under the state code. The fire originated in the kitchen and was discovered about 5:40 a.m. by the night attendant and sister of the proprietor when she went to warm some milk. She found the ceiling above the stove a sheet of flame and spread the alarm. The fire, which spread rapidly, fed by the highly combustible materials, was in almost complete command of the structure before firefighters arrived.”
On 1/31/1904 three Brooklyn, New York (FDNY) firefighters died while operating at Box # 77-44-493, 2-50 Nobble Street. “A four-alarm fire heavily damaged a two-story warehouse used to store jute and hemp. Two firefighters died after being they were overcome by toxic fumes given off by the burning jute. The third firefighter was severely exposed, and he died the next day. There were fifteen other firefighters overcome, but they all recovered.”
On 1/31/1915 a Detroit, Michigan firefighter “lost his life when he fell from a ladder and fractured his skull.”
On 1/31/1929 a Chicago, Illinois firefighter “died while fighting a 4-11 alarm fire at the South Shore Wet Wash Laundry on South Chicago Avenue. He was killed, and five other firefighters were injured, when the roof and one wall of the burning two-story building collapsed onto them.”
On 1/31/1943 two Yonkers, New York firefighters died while operating at a multi-family residential building fire. “At 8:07 p.m., the alarm was struck at 375-379 Warburton Avenue for a fire in the basement of an apartment building. Shortly after, the two firefighters entered the building along with four other firefighters. Upon entering, the floor and stairwell beneath them collapsed, trapping these men in the fire-filled basement. One firefighter was rescued near the front of the building, but firefighters had to force their way to the rear of the basement to reach the other 5 members. Three firefighters were pulled out unconscious, and two were found semi-conscious. While the other men recovered, two firefighters would succumb to their wounds at local hospitals.”
On 1/31/1951 a Houston, Texas firefighter “died while on duty at a fire at the Alaskan Fur Factory on Main and Texas Street. His job was that of driving and operating the water tower truck. Witnesses said the firefighter had just finished getting the kinks out of the fire hoses that were attached to his truck when he fell against the fire apparatus apparently suffering a heart attack. A firefighter close by summoned for help, but by the time the ambulance crew arrived, he had already lost consciousness, and attempts to revive him were futile.”
On 1/31/1954 a Lima, Ohio firefighter “died while operating at a fire involving a sporting goods store. He went alone into the basement of an adjacent building to check conditions wearing an old Civil Defense-type filter mask and was quickly overcome by carbon monoxide. He was later found lying in about a foot of water.”
On 1/31/1965 a Bronx, New York (FDNY) firefighter “was killed from injuries sustained while operating at Box 75-2575 located at Gerard Avenue and East 167th Street.”
On 1/31/1977 Corning, Ohio firefighter “died at a fire set in the New Straitsville Volunteer Fire Department, a one-story frame firehouse, by three teenage boys, who were stealing gasoline. The fire destroyed the firehouse and extended to, and destroyed, an adjacent frame warehouse. He was killed when he was caught under a collapsing wall. Sub-zero temperatures hampered firefighting efforts.”
On 1/31/1989 a Gillette, Wyoming firefighter “fell to his death after a roof collapsed at a church fire. Unknown to the firefighters, the fire had been burning for seven hours in a concealed space between the ceiling and roof.”
On 1/31/1993 a Denver, Colorado firefighter “died after climbing a ladder to obtain entry for police to check on a suicidal resident when he was shot by the resident and died of a gunshot wound to the chest.”
On 1/31/2009 a Cape Vincent, New York firefighter “and members of his fire department were dispatched to an emergency medical incident in a residence at 114 South Esseltyne Street. As the patient was treated, he became agitated and went into a bedroom. The patient emerged from the bedroom armed with a rifle. He fired two shots at the responders. One shot struck the firefighter. The gunman was placed into police custody and responders were able to begin treatment of the firefighter. Despite their efforts, he was pronounced dead at a local hospital. The cause of death was listed as exsanguination (blood loss).”
On 1/31/2016 five restaurant co-workers, in their 20s, died in a morning house fire in Novi a suburb of Detroit Michigan. The fire department was notified about 9:30 a.m. and upon arrival found smoke showing from the basement of the two-story Cape Cod-style home in the 23000 block of Mystic Forest Drive.
On 1/31/2013 an elevated portion (260’) stretch of the major east-west highway in central China in Mianchi county in Henan province collapsed after a truck loaded with fireworks for Lunar New Year celebrations exploded. The incident killed nine and injured thirteen people sending vehicles plummeting about 100 feet to the ground.
On 1/31/2013 an explosion in the basement of the 51-story Pemex tower (a Mexico City office building) the headquarters of the state-owned oil company Petroleos Mexicanos, Mexico Oil Company, killed twenty-five and injured 101 of the roughly 10,000 people who work in the five-building complex about 3:45 p.m.
On 1/31/2009 in the village of Podyelsk, Komi region in northwestern Russia a nursing home fire killed twenty-three in a single-story wood-frame building; three residents were rescued from the fire. Investigators suspect careless smoking or deliberate arson to conceal murder was the cause.
On 1/31/1909 the town of Milton, Florida conflagration destroyed the business section and many residences by a fire pushed by a strong northwest wind. “Two banks, the City Hall, the Waldorf Hotel, the Santa Rosa Star Building, two livery stables, and a dozen stores were destroyed.”
On 1/31/1898 the “worst storm since the Fire Alarm service commenced in 1852 occurred, heavy wet snow, dropping temperatures and high winds caused tremendous damage to poles, overhead wires, and buildings, and caused serious delays in the response of fire apparatus. Full Fire Alarm service was not restored until February 19, 1898. The underground circuits were not affected. After this storm, there were more calls for the placing of all fire alarm wires underground.”
On 1/31/1898 the Government Building, Courthouse, and Jail in Juneau, Alaska were destroyed by a fire. Nearly all the records were lost and “14 prisoners had to be released and made their escape.” The building “occupying the most conspicuous elevation in the city” was completely burned to the ground during a heavy winter gale.
On 1/31/1871 five perish in Kenosha, Wisconsin when the Halliday House hotel burned at 5:00 a.m. that spread with great rapidity, “four children, occupying the front room on the second floor, were cut off from the stairway by the flames and perished” The origin of the fire is unknown.