10/8/1871 Great Chicago Fire started, 17,000 buildings were destroyed and left 250 dead. The conflagration burned from Sunday October 8th to Tuesday October 10th and destroyed four square miles of Chicago, driven by strong northwest winds. Rebuilding the city began almost immediately. The fire started at about 9:00 p.m. in the alley behind 137 DeKoven Street. A Chicago Republican reporter, Michael Ahern, created a story that a cow owned by Patrick and Catherine O’Leary kicking over a lantern in the barn.
10/8/1871 a forest fire in Peshtigo, Wisconsin left 1,182 dead; the worst forest fire in North American history taking between 1,200 and 2,400 lives. The Peshtigo tragedy slipped into obscurity becoming America’s “forgotten fire” while the Chicago Fire became part of the national consciousness; additionally, several other wildfires burned across the mid-west, including three separate fires that destroyed the cities of Manistee, Port Huron, & Holland, MI.
10/8/1885 two San Francisco, CA firefighters died in “a fire in the large five-story brick building, 215, 217 and 219 Bush Street, known as the Crocker Building, occupied by H. S. Crocker & Co., stationers, printers and lithographers. The fire started in the basement, and had been burning some time before the alarm was sent. When the doors were forced open, the cellar or basement was one mass of flames from front to rear, shooting up the elevator shaft. The district fire fighting force was found inadequate, and a second alarm was sent. The fire was confined to the building in which it originated, which, with its contents, was destroyed. Two firefighters lost their lives in the discharge of their duty, and several members of the department injured by the falling in of the first floor of the building. The fire was under control in four hours, and required the services of twelve engines (of the department’s 14), three hose companies (of the department’s 7), and three truck companies (of the department’s 4). Loss estimated at $500,000.”
10/8/1940 a Little Rock, AR firefighter died at a “working fire involving a one-story taxpayer-type building, housing a drug store, grocery store, beauty shop, and a barber shop. Three firefighters began to stretch a 2-½ inch line to the front of the building, a backdraft occurred, showering the men with shards of glass, hot bricks, burning timbers, and steel beams. Additional companies were called to the scene to help dig the men out of the steaming rubble. One firefighter was pulled out of the rubble and rushed to the hospital, where doctors determined that he was killed instantly in the blast.”
10/8/1954 a Chicago, IL firefighter died “while fighting an extra alarm fire at the Streamdine Cafeteria on Roosevelt Road. He was killed when the restaurant floor collapsed, and he fell twenty feet into the basement. The first firefighters to reach the scene found flames shooting from gas meters in the restaurant basement, but quickly contained the visible fire. The firefighters were preparing to leave the scene when an explosion suddenly occurred, spreading the fire throughout the two-story building, which also housed a cleaning shop and a banquet hall. The firefighter responded to the fire after an extra alarm was sounded, and was helping to direct firefighting operations from the center of the restaurant when the floor began to sway. Realizing that the weakened floor was about to collapse, he ordered firefighters to evacuate the building, but was unable to escape himself before the floor collapsed. Three other firefighters were also caught in the collapse, but they were able to hold onto hose lines and were pulled to safety. Attempts by these firefighters and others to immediately locate the missing firefighter were unsuccessful due to the severity of the smoke and flames in the basement. Rescue efforts were further complicated by a broken water main that flooded the basement, but more than four hours after the fire was extinguished, rescuers recovered his body buried under debris. Fourteen other firefighters suffered burns, smoke inhalation, and other injuries during the fire, and six were treated at St. Anthony’s Hospital.”
10/8/1995 a Brooklyn, New York (FDNY) firefighter “was killed while performing a search on the fourth floor at a fire in a tenement building, when the fire broke through the ceiling engulfing the apartment in flames. The firefighter’s route of escape was blocked by a window gate. He died of burn injuries and smoke inhalation. The fire started on a mattress in a fourth-floor bedroom. The building had been previously cited for over 170 fire code violations.”
10/8/1940 Little, KY the Mission School dormitory fire killed nine small girls.
10/8/1928 Junction City, OH a penitentiary fire killed twenty of the 288 prisoners, most long-term convicts, in the “semi-fireproof building 250 feet long and 85 feet wide brick and sheet iron exterior with a double wooden floor” 1-½ story dormitory. “In the frantic scramble to escape, all exits were jammed, and men were trampled underfoot.” “It is believed the fire started there, perhaps from defective wiring, although the incendiarism theory was not wholly scouted.”