10/19/1857 “Chicago experienced one of its first fire disasters at a five-story brick building at 109-11 South Water St., between Clark and Dearborn Streets. The building housed a brothel, and according to most accounts, the fire began after someone knocked over a lamp. No lives were lost in this building, but the flames spread rapidly to several stores, warehouses, and rooming houses in the city’s central business district. Before the fire was under control, twenty-three lives were lost, including ten firefighters, and property valued at $700,000 was destroyed. The first firefighter to die had been standing on the roof of a wholesale store, attempting to get water on one of the adjacent buildings, when its outer walls buckled from intense heat and collapsed. Several other merchants and firefighters were later killed attempting to salvage goods from a building whose roof and upper floors had also collapsed and buried them. According to the Chicago Democrat, the fire was started by “drunken clerks” who had been “carousing with a lot of abandoned women.” As the fire spread, the paper reported, a half-nude woman “leaped from a second story window into the arms of a gallant firefighter.” Despite this praise, the damage and deaths exposed the inadequacy of an all-volunteer fire department in a rapidly-growing city. A coroner’s inquest revealed that, along with a lack of water pressure, Engines 6 and 10 had lost their hose before reaching the scene, and that neither company had repaired or replaced additional hoses damaged at a muster the week before, in which volunteers had competed for a coveted silver speaking trumpet. It was also shown that many of the volunteers were drifters from other cities drawn to firehouses as convenient places to sleep and drink whiskey. (Engine 6′s headquarters was the saloon of its captain, Pat Casey, who never took the company to a fire without a case of “Casey’s No. 6,” a brand of whiskey that was said to make a man more daring.) Owing to the needless loss of goods to both flames and looters, when business leaders lobbied for a full-time, professionally-trained fire department, it spelled the beginning of the end for Chicago’s volunteers.”
10/19/1883 a Chicago, IL firefighter died from injuries he received on October 11, 1883, when he was fatally injured while fighting an industrial fire. He was injured when he fell three stories at the Weber Wagon Company factory, located at 154 W. Lake St., the intersection of Union and Lake Streets. The fire started around 7:00 p.m. The flames were fed by the dry lumber used for manufacturing wagons. While the brick construction of the building created a furnace-like atmosphere inside the building during the fire, interior brick walls that compartmentalized the building also helped to contain the fire within portions of the second and third floors.”
10/19/1927 an Indianapolis, Indiana firefighter “died when he was overcome by smoke while fighting a residential fire at 2422 Brookside Parkway.”
10/19/1964 two Groesbeck, Ohio firefighters died at the Western Home Cabinet facility fire on Colerain Avenue, just south of Galbraith Road. “The fire, which began as a small fire in a sawdust collector quickly spread to the building and required the help of several mutual aid departments. The two firefighters lost their lives after being caught in a catastrophic building collapse.”
10/19/1971 a Houston, Texas firefighters died when an 82 car Missouri Pacific Railroad train had been making its way into Houston when it passed over a track that was being repaired. The track did not hold up under the weight of the loaded rail cars and caused derailment and a major explosion. The first explosion was from a tank car containing vinyl chloride, while the second tank car explosion contained butadiene. The main reason so many firefighters were hurt was that fire officials did not have information on the chemicals in the rail cars, making it hard for them the handle the situation properly. When the explosion occurred, a firefighter arrived on the scene and began recording the incident when the second tank car exploded, sending a wall of fire over the firefighter killing him instantly. The Mykawa Road train derailment and ensuing explosions injured more than thirty-five people. This disaster, like another well-known Texas disaster, the Texas City explosion of 1947, involved two explosions only a short interval apart. In the Mykawa Road disaster, the violent blasts came forty minutes apart with the second one doing the most damage.”
10/19/1971 an intentionally set fire by one of the residents at bedtime in the Geiger nursing home killed fifteen (ten females and five male patients) in Honesdale (Wayne County) PA. The fire started in a laundry room. The fire resulted in revised fire code standard in the nursing home industry.
10/19/2012 Big Tex the 52-feet tall Texas State Fair icon since 1952 was destroyed by fire.
10/19/1995 Palo Verde, AZ Amtrak derailment killed one and injured seventy-eight (twelve of them seriously) on Southern Pacific Railroad tracks; 4 typewritten notes, attacking the FBI and ATF for the ’93 Waco Siege signed “Sons of the Gestapo” were found; the saboteurs were never identified and may be a fictitious group to conceal a plan to rob a freight train.