2/17/2003 the E2 nightclub stampede in Chicago, IL killed twenty-one and injured fifty after security guards used pepper spray to break up a fight. The crowd panicked and rushed the exits; many believed it was a terrorist attack. The known exit was down steep stairs leading to a narrow inward opening door. The club’s owners were convicted of criminal contempt and sentenced to 2 years in prison for failing to comply with codes.
2/17/1957 the Katie Jane Nursing Home fire killed seventy-two of the 155 residences in Warrenton, MO. The fire started in the first-floor annex linen closet of the two-and-a-half story facility at approximately 2:40 p.m. Within 30 minutes the fire had extended through the building. The facility had been inspected one week earlier by a state official; however, there was no fire alarm or sprinkler system or an evacuation plan. The building had inadequate fire escapes and was operating without a license.
2/17/1888 a Louisville, KY firefighter “died from injuries resulting from a cistern exploding.”
2/17/1892 a Hartford, CT firefighter “died from the injuries he sustained while operating at Box 31.”
2/17/1899 “more than two hours after it was believed that the fire at thirteenth and Market Streets was under control, three Philadelphia, PA firefighters were killed by the fall of floors of the building, 1224 Market Street. Eight other firefighters were injured, but not dangerously. At five o’clock in the morning it was found that St. John’s Roman Catholic Church was on fire, and despite the utmost efforts of the fire department it was damaged to the extent it was estimated, of $60,000. Several valuable paintings were saved. Another firefighter, who had suffered extreme exposure at the fire, contracted pneumonia and died March 2nd as a result of its effects.”
2/17/1915 two Danville, IL firefighters “died while fighting a fire at the Independent Order of Odd Fellows Hall on North Vermilion Street. The firefighters were killed when a wall collapsed while they were standing on a second story fire escape directing a hose stream through a window. Four other firefighters were injured in the collapse. Five workers were injured in a second collapse on February 19 while cleaning up debris from the fire.”
2/17/1919 a Brooklyn, New York (FDNY) firefighter “was killed when he fell into a hold of a burning freighter and was overcome by fumes. Many other firefighters were also overcome while battling this stubborn blaze.”
2/17/1942 an Atlanta, GA firefighter “died as a result of the smoke and gases he inhaled while operating at a fire at the Bellinger’s Inn on Ponce De Leon Avenue on February 10th.”
2/17/1943 a Toledo, Ohio firefighter became trapped in the attic of a residence at 1005 West Woodruff and burned to death.
2/17/1984 a Cape Coral, FL firefighter died while moving a hand line in on a car that had caught fire after striking a pole, he collapsed to the street, unconscious.
2/17/1997 a Lexington, Kentucky firefighter died while operating at a residential structure fire. “Upon arrival the fire department reported heavy smoke showing from a residential structure. Initially Engine 11 was ordered to pull two 1-¾” handlines to the front of the structure; it soon because clear that the pump on E-11 was malfunctioning preventing the generation of adequate water pressure. Engine 6, the 2nd due engine, to pull two lines and prepare to make entry. Two firefighters pulled the attack lines, extinguished fire around the front door and made entry. Just after making entry both firefighters fell through the floor into the basement and became disoriented. Unknown to the crew of E-6, the fire had been set by an arsonist and there were multiple fires burning in the basement which had weakened the floor. Within a few minutes, the firefighters were found to be missing and the hole was located in the floor. Numerous rescue attempts were made but only one firefighter was able to make it out alive. Post incident investigations revealed that both firefighters had run out of air before being removed.
2/17/2001 two Ashton, Illinois firefighters died while operating at a single-story residential fire; the fire was reported in the basement. “Upon their arrival, firefighters searched the basement for fire and found none. The search was continued on the first floor and again, nothing was found. Firefighters returned to the basement with a thermal-imaging camera and a hoseline. A small fire was discovered, and firefighters began extinguishment. The basement ceiling was pulled, and a wave of heat and smoke descended on the five firefighters in the basement. The fire had been burning for some time in the concealed space between the basement ceiling and the first floor and fire now spread rapidly to the basement. Three firefighters were able to escape the basement immediately, but two firefighters were trapped. One of the trapped firefighters was in communication with the incident commander and relayed the fact that he was low on air and that his exit path had been cut off by fire progress. Mutual aid companies and EMS resources were called to the scene. Firefighters cut a hole in the first floor in an attempt to make access to the basement for rescue but the conditions in the hole prevented their entry. Both were pronounced dead shortly after their arrival at the hospital. The air supply in the SCBA worn by each firefighter was depleted. Both firefighters wore activated PASS devices. The cause of the fire was an electrical short at the panel. The cause of death for both firefighters was listed as asphyxiation.
2/17/1944 Lake City, MI the three-story Missaukee Courthouse was destroyed by fire about noon.
2/17/1898 North Adams, Massachusetts many buildings were damaged from a fire in the downtown district shortly after 5:00 a.m. that “started not far from the stove in the rear part of the store” at 41 Eagle Street.
2/17/1850 Batavia, New York several buildings were destroyed after fire in a two-story wooden hardware store on the north side of the Genesee (Main) Street extended about 11:30 a.m. during a strong westerly wind.
2/17/1996 Silver Spring, MD a commuter train collision between MARC commuter train and Amtrak’s Capitol Limited passenger train left eleven dead and twenty-six injured around 5:30 p.m.