FIREFIGHTER HISTORY 2/10

On 2/10/1863 a patent was issued for the first portable fire extinguisher to Alanson Crane of Monroe, Virginia (No 37,160). The tube container was a step up from the fire suppression glass “grenades” that were previously the most popular form of emergency firefighting. Little is known about Crane himself, and numerous patents were granted to fire extinguisher inventions around the same time as his. It is very likely his work is on the same oxygen-deprivation principle of firefighting.

On 2/10/1981 the 30-story Las Vegas, Nevada Hilton arson fire killed eight, more than 350 were injured, and more than 4,000 people were evacuated, 90 days after the devastating MGM Grand Hotel fire.  The Hilton (now the Westgate), was the largest hotel in the world at that time. The fire started on the 8th floor and extended to the 29th floor. The incendiary fire quickly developed in an elevator lobby on the 8th floor that had carpeting on the walls and ceiling. A flame front developed on the exterior of the building exposing the elevator lobby on the floors above primarily from radiant heat transfer. The fire progressed, vertically via the building’s exterior, floor to floor, to the top of the building. The presence of highly combustible carpeting on the walls and ceilings of the elevator lobbies contributed to the exterior fire spread and subsequent fatalities.

On 2/10/1887 a San Francisco, California firefighter “died from the injuries he sustained after operating at a fire in a Chinese wash-house at the corner of Port and Williams Streets when a wall had collapsed.”

On 2/10/1889 a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania firefighter “was killed when the floor he was on collapsed while trying to fight a fire that had broken out at the John Wyeth and Brother, Chemist Drug Store at 1410 Walnut Street.”

On 2/10/1933 a Saint Paul, Minnesota firefighter “died from a fall from the roof of a burning building at 1430 Sherburne.”

On 2/10/1938 a Boston, Massachusetts firefighter “died in the hospital from burns and the inhalation of smoke and gas, after working at a cellar fire in the J.J. Newbury’s Department Store at 180-194 Massachusetts Avenue. Around 06:22 a.m., 3 alarms were struck for Box 1591, (Massachusetts Avenue & Norway Street) on January 30, 1938.”

On 2/10/1962 a Dallas, Texas firefighter “collapsed and died as he fought a fire in an apartment house at 1313 Pennsylvania in South Dallas just before 11:00 p.m. He was inside the 4-unit apartment building when the roof began to collapse, he rushed outside and told other firefighters that he couldn’t breathe, then collapsed. Efforts to revive him were futile.”

On 2/10/2021 two children died following a devastating fire in Jersey City, New Jersey. “Firefighters responded around 11:30 p.m. to 470 Martin Luther King Drive as smoke billowed from the roof. Neighbors said the flames quickly swallowed the home. It is believed an 11-year-old girl was attempting to rescue her 8-month-old brother when they were both killed. The children’s mother escaped with a 6-year-old boy, and the door locked behind them. There was a lot of fire on that ground floor and went directly up those stairs into the hallway. Although there was not a lot of fire on the upper floor, it was probably 1200 degrees up there, which nobody would have survived.”

On 2/10/1999 a probable arson fire at the Samara Main Department of Internal Affairs in Central Russia killed fifty-seven and injured sixty-two people many of them being law enforcement officers. The offices of the police units fighting economic and organized crime, the anti-drug unit, the correctional department, the crime lab packed with material evidence, and the region’s main police archive that included card catalogs, documentation, and computer databases were housed in the structure. The fire started about 5:20 p.m. and raged until 5:00 a.m. the next morning in the L-shaped 6-story building, completed in 1934, with a large central staircase and many hollow void spaces between the wooden floors and walls. The building had gone through several cosmetic renovations and several walls were covered with highly flammable plastic paneling that emitted toxic smoke. Many occupants on the lower floors of the building were trapped because most of the windows were blocked with iron bars.

On 2/10/1958 the “worst winter fire in 10 years” wiped out Joe Goldman’s Jewelry and several other buildings at 9th and Mitchell Street Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

On 2/10/1917 the ten-story Hotel Lenox at Exeter and Boylston Streets, Back Bay District, in Boston, Massachusetts was heavily damaged by fire; all 250 guests and the employees were able to escape, most down the stairways. The elevator shaft quickly filled with smoke. The fire started on the second floor apparently from smoking material, the occupant tried to suppress the fire but was badly burned.

On 2/10/1946 a “convalescent home” fire killed five elderly women and seriously injured two on the second floor of the Tallman, New York Pinehurst Convalescent Home as fire swept up the stairs to the third floor.

On 2/10/1904 a Racine, Wisconsin fire at the insane asylum forced the evacuation of 133 inmates that originated in the attic from a defective flue and rapidly spread throughout the main structure.

On 2/10/1893 the Stratford County (Dover, New Hampshire) Insane Asylum fire killed forty-three. The fire started in one of the cells and quickly extended into the 135-foot corridor of the wood 2-story wood structure, and despite the effort of the security guard, the fire overwhelmed rescue efforts.

On 2/10/1928 the Everett, Massachusetts Beacon Oil Company explosion killed twelve, “the disaster would not have occurred had proper care been taken in handling the explosive materials used in the business.” “The preliminary investigation indicated that most of the dead and injured had probably been at work in the boiler and machine shops adjacent to the first still that exploded. Both of these buildings were leveled by the blast and fire.”

On 2/10/1902 the Springfield, Ohio Champion Chemical Plant fire in the 800’ X 1200’ building on East Street along the railroad started with the explosion of some chemicals around 9:00 a.m. Driven by a strong westerly wind the fire extended to twelve manufacturing plant tracks.

On 2/10/1902 a fire destroyed 25 blocks in Paterson, New Jersey. “Several persons were injured, hundreds were homeless, and thousands are left without employment.” The fire started at the powerhouse of the Jersey City, Hoboken, and Paterson Traction Company, on Broadway extended a block to the rear on Van Houten Street, and quickly extended across Van Houten Street and Main Street.

On 2/10/1902 an incendiary fire destroyed the Orpheum Theatre on Washington Street, opposite the City Hall in Chicago, Illinois that killed one and injured five people who were rescued by firefighters. This is the third time in six months that the theater has been on fire. Open gas jets were found in various parts of the building. “Firebugs have been trying to burn the building for years, no less than twenty attempts to destroy it having been made.” During the overhaul, the firefighters found the body “a street waif who had sought shelter in the vacant offices.”

On 2/10/1864 shortly before 8:30 p.m., the stable at the White House in Washington D.C. caught fire. President Lincoln could see the flames from a second-floor window. “There was a strong suspicion that Patterson McGee, a coachman who had been fired by Mary Lincoln on the day of the fire, was responsible for the blaze.”