On 11/18/1963 an arson fire in Atlantic City, New Jersey at the Surfside Hotel killed twenty-five in a frame hotel for elderly guests that spread to a row of closed hotels near the Atlantic City boardwalk. Five hotel buildings and one rooming house were destroyed, and four other buildings were damaged; five of the 30 guests at the Surfside escaped. Heavy wind from the ocean fanned the flames. “A pre-dawn fire turned a hotel-convalescent home into a funeral pyre for 25 elderly persons. The Fire Marshal said indications were that only seven of the 30 guests registered at the 120-unit Surfside Hotel had escaped. By noon EST, firefighters had removed three charred bodies from the smoldering rubble. The blaze also destroyed the six-story Stratmore, the Leonard, the Imperial hotels, and the Breyer guest home. It also damaged the Nixon Hotel, Hollywood, Palm Hall, and Virginia. Except for the Surfside, the hotels had no guests and contained only token maintenance crews. At least 12 persons were injured, including a woman guest who was reported in critical condition. One police officer and two firefighters also were among the injured taken to Atlantic City hospital. The fire’s early start and its extreme heat and smoke forced firefighters to stand by helplessly as the Surfside burned to the ground. Screams and wails of the persons trapped inside could be heard above the noise of the fire-fighting equipment. The fire was discovered shortly after 4:30 a.m. EST and 30 minutes later the general alarm was sounded, bringing out fire apparatus from a half-dozen shore resorts. The fire was contained at about 8 a.m., although some of the buildings were still burning. The Surfside was on Maryland Avenue, about 300 feet off the famed Boardwalk. It is a summer-season hotel and becomes a residence for the ill and aged in the off-season. “I heard screaming and wails from the Surfside,” said a Boardwalk who lives nearby. “I panicked and didn’t know what to do.” Only one of the Surfside survivors was admitted to Atlantic City Hospital. She was 63 years old and from Mill Street. Morristown, N.J., listed in critical condition with severe body burns. The blaze sent flames roaring 200 feet into the air. Officials declined to make a damage estimate, but observers said it would be well over $1 million.”
On 11/18/1999 while preparing for the annual “Aggie Bonfire” at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas a collapse killed twelve and injured twenty-seven of the fifty-eight students working to build the 40-foot high stack of about 5000 logs; the collapse occurred during construction. Texas Task Force 1 was called to assist in rescue operations that took over 24 hours.
On 11/18/1910 a Tucson, Arizona firefighter “died as a result of injuries he sustained when fighting a structure fire. Trapped water on top of a metal roof was heated by the fire underneath. The roof failed and collapsed on him, bringing down debris and boiling water. He was severely scalded from the water.”
On 11/18/1923 a Detroit, Michigan firefighter “died of burns in the course of performing his duties.”
On 11/18/1927 an Indianapolis, Indiana firefighter “was overcome by smoke while fighting a three-story apartment fire on November 13th. He died five days later. Eight civilians also died in this fire.”
On 11/18/1940 a Tacoma, Washington firefighter “died of smoke inhalation while operating at a fire.”
On 11/18/1943 two Wichita, Kansas firefighters “lost their lives when they were electrocuted while fighting a fire at Third and Topeka.”
On 11/18/1956 a Cottage Grove, Oregon firefighter “died as a result of injuries sustained October 28th, when he and two other firefighters were caught in an explosion while operating at a fire in a propane plant. One of the men was killed instantly in the blast and the other firefighter died December 30th as a result of injuries he sustained.”
On 11/18/1960 three Chinatown (Manhattan) New York (FDNY) firefighters were killed as a fire spread quickly throughout a five-story brick structure and extended to other buildings. “Three firefighters drowned after becoming trapped in the basement after the three upper floors of the old Loft Building collapsed, at Broadway and Grand Street in Lower Manhattan. The members of Rescue 1 worked to complete exhaustion trying to rescue their comrades and the rescue efforts continued despite the danger of a complete collapse of the building. Twelve others were also injured.”
On 11/18/1975 a Middlebourne, West Virginia firefighter “was killed instantly, and seven other people were injured, as they attempted to remove the dead body of a truck driver from his overturned gasoline tractor tanker and they were caught in a vapor flashover. Three others were blown several yards away by the blast and seriously burned. A state trooper and three bystanders were also injured in the blast.”
On 11/18/1990 a Homer, Nebraska firefighter “was killed after a fall from the aerial while rescuing a cat, due to severe traumatic head and neck injuries. The fall was caused by an electrical shock received from an electrical power pole transformer wire.”
On 11/18/2014 a New Orleans, Louisiana house fire claimed the lives of three children, their mother, and their grandmother around 12:15 a.m. Reports suggest that the children’s father escaped the blaze, and tried to re-enter to rescue his family, but was blocked by the flames. It appears the fire started on the first floor in the rear of the metal-sided, two-story home, and took about 1-½ hours to control.
On 11/18/2012 a fire engulfed the 34 stories Tamweel Tower in Dubai. Probably started from a cigarette thrown from a balcony that ignited rubbish piled in an outdoor passageway at the base of the building, at 2.30 a.m. “The fire alarm went off and at first we thought they were just testing the system,” said one of the occupants. Once ignited, the fire quickly spread up the highly-flammable building cladding – which contained aluminum and fiberglass to the roof, blazing chunks of cladding rained down on the balconies and cars below and extended fire inside the building mainly through the balconies.
On 11/18/1996 a fire in the Chunnel occurred on a 29-car Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) shuttle traveling from France to the United Kingdom at 8:45 p.m. The HGV was transporting lorries (cargo trucks). The carrier was covered with a solid roof, and the sides were open lattices. The 31.35-mile tunnel runs from Folkestone, in the United Kingdom to Coquelles, France, and is configured with two 25 feet diameter parallel running tunnels with a service tunnel running between the two tunnels, there are 270 cross passages located every 1,230 feet. The fire started in a carrier wagon at the rear of the train and destroyed eight HGV transporters and their contents, a loader, and the rear locomotive. The fire also significantly damaged the tunnel lining. No injuries were reported, and the fire interrupted passenger service for 15 days.
On 11/18/1987 thirty commuters were killed, and scores of others were injured in a London subway station fire at the King’s Cross station: at 7:50 p.m. Flames were spotted beneath the escalator. Several people reported the smell of smoke earlier; however, no alarm was sounded. The fire spread rapidly, a witness described it as a “shock wave of fire,” leaving no path to escape.
On 11/18/1968 the James Watt Street fire was a fatal factory fire in Glasgow, Scotland, that killed twenty-two employees trapped in a building behind barred windows. The Stern furniture upholstery factory was located on James Watt Street, between Argyle Street and the Broomielaw on the north side of the River Clyde. It had previously been used as a whisky bond (whisky warehouse). The previous use of the building resulted in high-security measures, with barred windows. During the inquiry, it was discovered that the doors to the fire escape were locked from the inside. The building consisted of a ground, first, and second floors, with a basement. Julius and Samuel Stern ran the upholstery business B Stern Ltd. on the upper floors. A glass company, G. Bryce occupied the basement and part of the ground floor. “The fire alarm was raised at around 10:30, with the first crews arriving within five minutes. A serious fire was seen to be in progress, and a “Make Pumps 10” message was sent to control almost immediately (additional appliances required, which in addition to those already there would total 10). As part of this request for reinforcements, a “Persons Reported” message was sent, indicating persons were requiring urgent assistance and rescue. Seventy firefighters attended to fight the fire, with water poured onto the building from turntable ladders. It was found that efforts at rescue were futile due to the intense heat, and the difficulties in entering the building. Escape from the building had been prevented due to fire on the stairs, caused by polyurethane foam, and the escape doors from the first and second floors to the fire escape were found to have been locked from the inside. Eventually, no persons were seen at the windows, and any hopes of rescue for those insides ended when the roof of the building collapsed. Many attempts were made to enter the building where the employees were believed to be, but intense heat drove back the firefighters. The Glasgow Fire Service personnel eventually gained access to the building, by cutting through the steel doors using oxy-propane cutting gear. The dead were found inside the factory to have died due to the inhalation of smoke, the burning of polyurethane foam resulting in poisonous fumes, fatal when inhaled.”
On 11/18/1947 the Ballantyne Department Store fire killed forty-one in Christ Church, New Zealand.
On 11/18/1941 in Amityville, New York a sanitarium fire killed six elderly patients.
On 11/18/1900 four people died in a fire at the McGonigal Hotel in Oswayo, Pennsylvania that originated from overpressure of natural gas line, the town has no fire department, and there were 30 people in the hotel at the time of the fire in a building that was described as “a flimsy structure”
On 11/18/1881 in Columbus, Ohio “Idiot Asylum” was destroyed by fire, all were able to escape.
On 11/18/1873 Tipton, MO a portion of the business district was destroyed by fire.