2/20/2003 The Station Nightclub fire at 211 Cowesett Avenue, Warwick, RI left over one-hundred dead and more than two-hundred injured. The fire started at 11:08 p.m. while the band Great White opened with the song “Desert Moon” using pyrotechnics devices as part of their act that ignited flammable soundproofing foam. A fast-moving fire with intense black smoke engulfed the club in 5-½ minutes. Video footage of the fire shows its ignition, rapid growth, the billowing smoke that quickly made escape impossible, and the exit blockage that further hindered evacuation. Egress from the nightclub, which was not equipped with sprinklers, was hampered by crowding at the main entrance to the building. The toxic smoke, heat, and the resulting human crush toward the main exit killed 100; 230 were injured and another 132 that escaped uninjured.
2/20/1768 the first U.S. chartered fire insurance company was started in Philadelphia, PA modeled after British marine and fire insurers. Fire insurance first appeared in Britain after the Great London Fire of 1666 as mutual societies. Each policyholder owned a share of the risk. The early American fire insurers followed the same model. The American mutual were not considered money-making ventures, rather an outgrowths of volunteer fire fighting organizations. Benjamin Franklin organized mutual insurance venture, the Philadelphia Contributionship.
2/20/1880 two Manhattan, New York (FDNY) firefighters died “while venting the roof of a burning building during a three-alarm fire, the firefighters of Ladder 1 were caught when the rear portion of the roof suddenly collapsed. The captain and one of the firefighters were able to jump to the roof of an adjacent building, but two of the men were carried down into the building. Their bodies were found the next day.”
2/20/1885 a Milwaukee, WI firefighter was suffocated by smoke at the George A. Spence Plumbing Company fire, 130-132 Grand Avenue.
2/20/1907 a Philadelphia, PA firefighter died of injuries he sustained after falling down a shaft at 237-39 Bread Street.
2/20/1930 a Cambridge, MA firefighter died while operating at a fire in a row of stores, he was asphyxiated by gas in the basement.
2/20/1941 a Saint Paul, MN firefighter “was overcome by smoke while working in the basement at Highland Village Shopping Center, Ford Parkway & Cleveland. He was found lying beneath a basement stairway in several feet of water. He had drowned from the rising water.”
2/20/1966 a San Francisco, CA firefighter “died from injuries he sustained while operating at an apartment house, at 1750 Taylor.”
2/20/1985 an Irvington, NJ firefighter “died after collapsing at the scene of a fire. He was taken to Beth Israel Medical, where he was pronounced dead.”
2/20/2015 around 2:00 a.m. a fire damaged six floors in the 86-story (79 floors above ground), 1,100-foot-tall Torch in Dubai Marina district in the United Arab Emirates that began near the 51st floor. The 676 residential units building were evacuated in 20-25 minutes, there were no injuries.
2/20/2015 a fire in the Emirati capital Abu Dhabi al-Mussafah industrial area, filled with warehouses, factories and workshops, claimed the lives of ten and injured eight laborers that started in a car repair shop at the base of a commercial building and spread to a second-story warehouse that had illegally rented out to accommodate the workers.
2/20/2015 a fire in a mattress factory in Bavaria, Germany caused extensive damage. Factory workers tried extinguishing the fire; however, the it extended rapidly to all four production halls. A total of 250 firefighters worked to contain the fire, by the afternoon, the fire was under control, but would take a few hours before it was completely extinguished. “The initial findings show that the fire was sparked by a mattress, which was apparently statically charged and therefore caught fire,”
2/20/2009 White Mountain, AK a 71-year-old woman and three men ages 51, 43, and 24-years-old were killed in a home fire.
3/20/2002 Cairo, Egypt a train fire killed 373, most burned to death when flames swept through the train traveling at 40 MPH from the capital, Cairo, to Luxor; the engineer did not immediately realize the train was on fire before stopping in the town of al-Ayatt, south of the capital. The draft from open windows drove the fire through the overcrowded cars; designed to hold 150 most were filled to about 300 passengers returning from five-day Eid al-Adha festival. A stove started the fire.
2/20/1947 the O’Connor Plating Works explosion killed ten and injured more than 100 in Los Angeles, CA caused by a breakdown in the refrigeration system for the concentrated perchloric acid.
2/20/1910 the Catholic College at Chamberlain (SD) was completed destroyed by fire that apparently started in the southwest corner and was discovered at 2:00 a.m.
2/20/1908 Hardwick, VT the four-story McFarland Building was destroyed by fire that started in the furnace room.
2/20/1905 Indianapolis, IN eight buildings, including three hotels, were destroyed by fire in the wholesale district that started in the wareroom of a millinery company on the second floor.
2/20/1904 Jackson, UT was destroyed when two freight trains collided while switching; one hauling dynamite and powder wrecked & exploded in the switch yard, thirty-six died as a result of the incident.
2/20/1882 Flatbush, NY the Kings County Insane Asylum was destroyed by fire that killed two.