12/3/1999 the Worcester Cold Storage Warehouse fire claimed the lives of six firefighters in Worcester, MA. A fire started when a homeless and mentally disabled couple knocked over a candle and fled without reporting it. The structure was located five blocks east of the central business district, near the train station, and adjacent to Interstate highway 290. The fire went to five alarms and burned for six days. “Reports that homeless people were possibly inside the engulfed warehouse caused fire-rescue personnel to search the six-story building. The searchers’ task was made extremely difficult by the large size of the building’s interior and the highly flammable composition of its insulation.” Originally built in 1906, the two six-story structures contained 43,000 square feet and had been abandoned for over 10 years. “The six-story building’s exterior walls were constructed of approximately 18 inches of brick and mortar, with no windows above the second floor. The lack of available windows prevented firefighting personnel from making an accurate initial assessment of the fire. Initial breaching of lower-floor doors, combined with venting the building by smashing an elevator-shaft roof skylight, effectively turned the building into a huge chimney. With the fire rapidly accelerating out of control, rescue teams facing near-zero visibility became lost with available breathing air depleted. Despite repeated radio calls for help, along with activation of audible location alarms, six firefighters, who have since become known as the Worcester 6, perished in the blaze.” “The Worcester Fire Department responded at 1813 hours that night to Box Alarm 1438 for a fire at 266 Franklin Street. (NOTE: 266 Franklin Street is now the address and location of WFD’s E-6, E-12, L-1, R-1, and Scuba-1 quarters). Two members of Rescue 1 entered the building searching for occupants. Fire conditions worsened in the building at a rapid and unexpected rate. The two firefighters entered the fifth floor, became disoriented in the smoke-filled building. Lost, and running low on air, they called for help. Several crews began searching for the lost firefighters. Two crews reaching the fifth floor also found themselves disoriented in the smoke and trapped by the maze of interior walls: Four additional firefighters were now trapped. Though many more highly heroic Worcester Firefighters attempted to locate their missing brothers, their efforts proved futile.”
12/3/1984, in Bhopal, India, at the Union Carbide plant 27 tons of the deadly methyl isocyanate gas began leaking, none of the six safety systems operated. Half a million people were exposed, over 20,000 died and 120,000 people suffer from ailments. Methyl isocyanate (MIC) is a clear, colorless, lachrymatory, sharp smelling, low flash point, highly flammable liquid that boils at 39.1°C
12/3/1979 Eleven people, including three high-school students, were killed at Cincinnati Ohio Riverfront Coliseum in a stampede at the Who concert in “festival seating” when a crowd of general-admission ticket-holders surged forward in an attempt to enter the Coliseum. “Festival Seating” is a form of audience/spectator accommodation in which no seating, other than a floor or finished ground level, is provided for the audience/ spectators gathered to observe the performance. Festival seating describes situations in assembly occupancies where live entertainment events are held that are expected to result in overcrowding and high audience density that can compromise public safety (NFPA 101).
12/3/1890 two Detroit, MI firefighters died from the injuries they sustained after being caught in the collapse of falling walls at the Daniel Scotten & Company fire.
12/3/1891 a Cleveland, OH firefighter “was thrown from a ladder by falling debris while fighting a fire at the Scott & Foreman Co. Block on Superior Street side on November 15, 1891. He later died of the injuries he sustained on December 3, 1891. The fire destroyed a total of 10 buildings.”
12/3/1912 a Boston, MA firefighter “died as a result of injuries sustained while operating at a fire on November 25th.”
12/3/1942 a Cincinnati, OH firefighter died while operating at a fire involving an attic room in a three-story building after he was overcome by smoke.
12/3/1946 a Swampscott, MA firefighter died of injuries after suffering burns to the face, throat, and lungs at a fire on Ocean Avenue.
12/3/2006 two East Sussex, UK firefighters “died when the Festival Fireworks Factory exploded near Lewes, East Sussex. The blasts were so loud they were heard in Uckfield, 12 miles away.”
12/3/2011 a Livingston Parish, Louisiana firefighter “was on the first arriving company to respond and he worked for nearly 20 minutes removing people from the home and fighting the fire. After exiting the building, the firefighter began to experience cardiac distress and was treated and taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead as a result of the injuries he received at the scene.”
12/3/2016 “firefighters battle a 10-alarm blaze in Cambridge, Massachusetts, that quickly ignited eight buildings.”
12/3/1956 a waterfront explosion and fire killed ten and injured 270 in Brooklyn, NY at Bush Terminal, Luckenbach Steamship Company pier on 35th Street in Sunset Park at 3:15 p.m. Dockworkers using an oxyacetylene torch to cut a column atop the pier ignited a pile of 500 burlap bags containing 26,365 pounds of ground foam rubber scrap. Longshoremen attempted to extinguish the fire with handheld extinguishers but were unsuccessful. Earlier there had been an additional 11,415 pounds of rubber scrap on the pier. Some burlap bags holding the scrap had broken and highly flammable contents had been strewn across the dock leaving a trail for the flames to follow. As the fire extended, at 3:41 p.m., 37,000 pounds of Cordeau Detonant Fuse, not considered a major explosive hazard at the time, caused an explosion that launched the steel frame structure atop the pier in all directions. Flying steel caused all ten deaths, including one victim a full 1,000 feet away. The explosion shook buildings in the Financial District of Manhattan and was heard 35 miles away.