On 11/22/1919 the Ville Platte, Louisiana Dance Hall fire left fifteen seriously injured and twenty-five dead; many crushed by the mass panic as nearly 3,000 people, mostly women and children, attempted to escape the oil stove explosion and ensuing fire from the 2nd floor of the Deville Building, most of the exits were blocked. “On the evening of November 22, 1919, twenty-five persons lost their lives in a fire which destroyed a two-story frame building, the upper story of which was used as a dance hall, while the first floor comprised a grocery and restaurant of doubtful reputation, a clothing store, and a motion picture theatre,” reported the official investigative report of Louisiana’s first Fire Marshal. The hall was located inside the G.J. Deville Building on Main Street. The fire had its origin in the grocery and restaurant. It appears that the wife of the proprietor was warming some coffee at the kerosene oil stove when the tank ran dry. She instructed a boy employee to fill the tank, which he did from a can at the back of the store. When he reattached the tank to the stove, she again lighted the latter, but the burner immediately exploded, scattering burning oil over the stove and the floor. The fire began to spread to the theatre and, according to the report, worked “its way up inside the partition wall, burned through the floor of the dance hall about in the middle of the building. At once there was a rush for the only staircase, and the panic-stricken dancers found themselves jammed in the stairway and confronted by an equally panic-stricken crowd that was madly fighting its way up in an insane attempt at rescue. The result was a scene of indescribable horror; many of those who escaped were only able to get out by walking on top of those who were already jammed in the stairway. Finally, the staircase collapsed under its human burden, causing the partition wall which separated it from the clothing store to give way. Those who were not already dead or badly injured were then able to reach the street through the store.” “If anything good came out of it, that incident contributed to the updates to the Life Safety Code over the years. The code covers occupancy safety in buildings. It’s a standard that deals with exiting, building capacity, and doorway requirements. All of that together is egress, the way people get out of a building. That fire was a studied incident over the next several decades. We learned from that tragedy not to repeat it. The stairwell collapsing wasn’t a good situation. Before the fire, Ville Platte had, at best, a volunteer fire department with a bucket brigade. After the fire, a fire department was established in 1920. The first motorized fire engine acquired was not until seven years later in 1927.”
On 11/22/1886 a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania firefighter and several fire horses were crushed to death in a chimney collapse while operating at a major fire on an island, which sits in the middle of the Allegheny River.
On 11/22/1892 two FDNY firefighters in the Cobble Hill section of Brooklyn, New York died while working on the roof of Harbeck’s Store when it suddenly collapsed.
On 11/22/1895 four Chicago, Illinois firefighters died while fighting a fire in the Dry Goods and Woolen Exchange building located at the northwest corner of Franklin and Van Buren when portions of the seven-story structure collapsed. The fire started on the second floor of the building at around 9:00 a.m. “The fire was adjacent to an elevator shaft, allowing flames and smoke to quickly rise and spread throughout the building. Panicked workers were jumping from the upper levels of the building as fire companies arrived on the scene, and one woman ultimately jumped to her death. Four hours after the fire started, a majority of the flames had been successfully extinguished, but firefighters were still scattered throughout the building fighting small pockets of fire. Portions of the building structure had been weakened by the fire, and the structure was no longer strong enough to support two large safes installed on the upper floors of the building.” Around 1:00 p.m. “the safes crashed through the weakened floors, and created an avalanche of mortar, heavy beams, flooring, pipes, and other debris. Although seventy firefighters were operating in the building at the time of the collapse, only five firefighters from Engine 2 were directly in the path of the falling debris. The five firefighters were swept from the second floor of the building and buried under tons of debris. Firefighters began aggressive efforts to rescue their trapped colleagues.”
On 11/22/1913 a Montréal, Québec, Canada firefighter “died after being overcome by smoke while fighting a fire at 119 Bleury Street.”
On 11/22/1917 two Osceola, Iowa firefighters “were killed when a wall collapsed on them as they assisted with fighting a fire at a commercial building at the intersection of Jefferson Street and Main Street. They were in the back alley with several citizens and firefighters when an explosion occurred inside the building, causing the wall to collapse.”
On 11/22/1936 a Waterloo, Iowa firefighter “died of an embolism aggravated by smoke inhaled during a fire at Friedl’s Coffee Shop. He was exposed to dense smoke for a considerable amount of time while operating at the fire. Later he drove the fire truck back to Central Station and repaired a throttle that had given him trouble. He started coughing up blood and was taken to the doctor’s office. The doctor ordered him to be taken to the hospital. A couple of hours later he started running a high fever, lapsed into unconsciousness, and died a short time later.”
On 11/22/1937 a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania firefighter “died after being overcome by ammonia fumes at the Meat Packing Company.”
On 11/22/1953 a LaFayette, Indiana firefighter died from injuries he received “on November 20, 1953, while washing down spilled gasoline at the Wonder Bread Bakery. The vapors exploded burning several firefighters. He died from his injuries two days later on November 22, 1953. The incident also took the lives of two firefighters the day of the incident.
On 11/22/1961 two Manhattan, New York (FDNY) firefighters “lost their lives at a five-alarm fire in the 25-story Time Square building. The fire started in the second sub-cellar. Heavy smoke was found throughout the entire building. The firefighters “became trapped and ran out of air while searching for possible trapped occupants on the upper floors.”
On 11/22/1961 a Brockton, Massachusetts firefighter died from injuries he sustained while operating at Box 5315, working at a house fire at 111 Summer Street.
On 11/22/1971 a firefighter died from injuries he received after falling down an elevator shaft after getting lost in the heavy smoke at a five-alarm fire at 132-144 Lincoln Street, in downtown Boston, Massachusetts.
On 11/22/1976 a Chicago, Illinois firefighter died following a five-alarm fire at the Commonwealth Edison generating plant on 1111 W. Cermak Road. “The fire had started in a warehouse around 8:30 p.m. and was spread throughout the plant by a quarter-mile coal conveyor chute system. As firefighters were battling the blaze, the chute collapsed, spreading the fire even further, and trapping three firefighters on the roof of a seventy-foot warehouse.” Firefighters were trapped beneath the chute on a narrow, eighteen-inch, ledge. “After more than seven hours the firefighter’s left leg was freed, but his right leg remained trapped. Due to the extent of his injuries, which included smoke inhalation, a crushed left leg, and other internal injuries, his condition steadily declined throughout the night. The fire department physician soon concluded that amputating his right leg to free him from the rubble was the last chance to save his life. The firefighter gave his consent for the two-minute surgery, which was performed on the narrow ledge in almost complete darkness. He went into shock and lost consciousness as he was transported from the roof to a waiting ambulance. Paramedics attempted to revive him, but he was pronounced dead at Mercy Hospital.”
On 11/22/1979 two firefighters were killed by the collapse of a burning synagogue timber truss roof. The Gates of Zion Temple in Valley Stream, Long Island, New York. “In the early morning hours of Thanksgiving Day 1979 in Valley Stream Long Island. The two firefighters were killed while battling a fire in the fire. After knocking down a fire in a small room next to the main altar, heat and flame were quickly reduced and firefighters assumed the blaze was extinguished. But unnoticed in the smoke, flames had spread up to the attic space through a small spiral staircase leading to the attic. In the attic, concealed by a recently installed ceiling, truss roof supports were burning. As firefighters were leaving to refill air masks, the ceiling and the inclined plane timber truss roof collapsed. The collapse and ensuing fire trapped several firefighters and killed the two captains. The cause of the blaze, which destroyed the synagogue’s sanctuary and social hall, was described as suspicious.”
On 11/22/1985 a Baltimore City, Maryland firefighter died while working Box Alarm 36-10 at 2666 Lauretta Avenue. Heavy smoke was pushing from the windows and doors of the first floor of a 2-story brick row home. Firefighters made entry through the rear door into the kitchen area in an attempt to locate the fire that was located in the basement. “As they open the door a “backdraft” occurred, and the rapid in-rush of air literally sucked the firefighter inward causing him to fall down the steps into the fully involved basement. A quick rescue was made by the crew and the firefighter was quickly removed from the building and handed over to EMS” with burns to 65% of his body and a head injury from the fall.
On 11/22/2014 a Tallahassee, Leon County, Florida man set his house on fire and killed a responding deputy in a plot to lure first responders to the street, so he could gun them down in an ambush, he was shot and killed in a 12-minute mid-morning gun battle in the middle of the street in the Plantation Woods neighborhood.
On 11/22/2014 just before midnight, a suspected gas leak caused an explosion in the basement of the Hyatt Regency Churchill in London that injured fourteen people and forced the evacuation of 400 hundred hotel guests from the luxury West End hotel with 434 rooms or suites. The incident caused extensive damage to the basement and ground floor; five vehicles nearby on the street were also damaged.
On 11/22/2012 a Wheaton, Missouri apartment fire claimed the lives of five people, from two families; including a child in two separate units in the building.”
On 11/22/1922 a Dolomite, Alabama mine explosion killed over 100 after a dust mine explosion trapped 475 miners.
On 11/22/1915 in Columbus, Georgia a carnival train collision left twenty-four dead.
On 11/22/1889 in Butte, Montana nine died in the Saint Lawrence & Anaconda mine fire.
On 11/22/1858 the Howard Building was destroyed by a fire in Providence, Rhode Island.
On 11/22/1963 President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President, was assassinated in Dallas, Texas.