2/23/1991 One Meridian Plaza fire claimed the lives of three firefighters in Philadelphia, PA, one of the most significant high-rise fires in U.S. history. “Construction on the 492’ tower began in 1968, was completed in 1972 and approved for occupancy in 1973. Built at the corner of 15th Street and South Penn Square in Center City.” The fire began on the 22nd floor and extended and destroyed 9 floors of the 38-story fire-resistive building. Plagued by operational problems during the 18-½ -hour effort PFD worked to control the fire, at one point attempting to deploy 5” large diameter hoses up the stair towers. “Firefighters began experiencing problems before they even reached the fire. By the time firefighters reached the 11th floor the building had lost power after the heat from the blaze damaged electrical cables. The emergency generator never began producing electricity, and despite efforts to restore power the building was without electricity for the entirety of the event. This forced firefighters to work in darkness and without the aid of elevators. In addition, the transformers that provided power to the neighboring Girard Trust Building were in the basement of One Meridian Plaza. The transformers were eventually shut down due to water accumulation in the basement and firefighters directing water streams from that building had to do so without the aid of elevators. Firefighters were again hampered when it was discovered the pressure release valves on the standpipes were improperly adjusted when installed in the building. The Philadelphia Fire Department nozzles allowed 100 psi nozzle pressure while One Meridian Plaza’s pressure release valves were giving less than 60 psi discharge pressure, which was not sufficient to fight the fire. It was several hours into the fire before a technician who could adjust the valves arrived at the scene.” “During the second hour of the fire it spread onto the 23rd and 24th-floors. Heavy smoke was building up in the stairwells and a captain and two firefighters from Engine 11 were assigned to go to the top level to ventilate the stairwell. The three firefighters went up a center staircase from the 22nd floor and soon radioed that they were disoriented by heavy smoke on the 30th floor. There were attempts to direct the firefighters through the radio, and soon after the captain requested permission to break a window for ventilation, which was followed by a message that the captain was down. Permission to break the window was given and a search and rescue effort was initiated. Search teams were sent from the lower floors and searched the 30th floor, but did not find the missing firefighters. The teams then moved onto the upper levels where one team got lost on the 38th floor and ran out of air in their self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA). That team was rescued by a search team that had been placed on the roof by a helicopter. Rescue attempts continued until helicopter operations were suspended due to heavy smoke and thermal drafts caused by the blaze” … The fire was stopped when it reached a floor with automatic sprinklers. “Workers had been refinishing woodwork in a vacant office earlier in the day and workers left a pile of rags soaked in linseed oil on the floor. The linseed oil oxidized and generated enough heat to ignite the rags which then set fire to other solvents nearby. Smoke detectors did not cover the entire floor and by the time the fire alarm went off the fire was already well established.
2/23/1875 a Denver, CO firefighter collapsed and died after a fire at the Planters Hotel.
2/23/1899 a Chicago, IL firefighter died while fighting a warehouse fire at Broadway and Center Avenue, Swift Warehouse # 7. He was crushed to death when a wall collapsed shortly after 3:00 a.m. The fire was discovered on the ground floor of the eight-story brick warehouse partially occupied by Swift & Company. Strong winds contributed to the rapid spread of the fire, and more than thirty-five fire companies responded to the 4-11 fire alarm.
2/23/1927 a Manhattan, New York (FDNY) firefighter died of smoke inhalation while operating at a fire.
2/23/1936 a New Bedford, MA firefighter died “while operating the chemical tank at a fire.”
2/23/1948 an Atlanta, GA firefighter “died as a result of the extreme exhaustion and exposure he sustained the previous day while working at a four-alarm fire at the Georgia State Hatcheries on Forsyth Street.”
2/23/1952 a Newburgh, NY firefighter died from smoke inhalation.”
2/23/1971 a Chicago, IL firefighter died “while fighting a residential fire at 4629 South Lake Park Avenue. The three-story brick apartment building was destroyed in the fire, leaving forty residents homeless, firefighters successfully rescued twenty-five people from the burning building.”
2/23/1972 two Los Angeles, CA firefighters “died of injuries suffered when a mezzanine collapsed at a commercial structure fire at the Union Manufacturing and Distributing Company, 241 West 116th Place. Four firefighters entered the building to attempt to cut off the advance of the fire, when a ceiling area with light storage collapsed. Two firefighters escaped, but two were apparently trapped in the debris of the falling ceiling. Intense heat repelled all rescue attempts. According to the Police Department, a burglary had been committed at the scene shortly before the fire broke out, and authorities believe that the fire was set to eradicate evidence of the crime.”
2/23/1973 three Palatine, IL firefighters “were killed while trying to extinguish a blaze at the Ben Franklin Variety Store in downtown Palatine, Illinois. The three went down to the store’s basement, they believed the fire was centered on the building’s furnace. One of the firefighters body was recovered from the store’s basement staircase, the bodies of the other two were found under rubble at the foot of the stairs. Although each of the three men wore a self-contained breathing apparatus, it was reported that they asphyxiated due to smoke inhalation and the superheated air in the basement. Two firefighters had actually discarded their SCBA, prompting speculation that they had “panicked and torn their masks off when their tanks ran empty.””
2/23/1982 two Danbury, CT firefighters “died of the injuries they sustained after being caught in a collapse. They were searching a two-story commercial building that had been used as a fur factory at 178 Osborne Street when the second floor of the building collapsed. They had been told that a worker was still in the building. The employee they were searching for had already fled and made it out of the building.”
2/23/1991 sixteen people died including nine firefighters and twenty-one people were hospitalized in a fire that “started when a television set that had not been turned off exploded” in the 3-star nine-story Leningrad Hotel, Saint-Petersburg, Russia around 9:00 a.m. that extended from the seventh through ninth floors.
2/23/2012 five people were killed in South Plainfield NJ house fire.
2/22/1976 Galena Park, TX a grain elevator explosion and fire killed eight and twenty-five were injured at a waterfront grain elevator. A welder’s torch may have ignited grain dust. “The explosion and fires threatened briefly the numerous petroleum and chemical plants along the busy Houston Ship Channel.”
2/22/1966 Dunbar, PA five were killed and eight injured at the Keystone Fireworks Company plant explosion and fire while working in a building that produced “cherry bombs” mixing chemicals about 8:45 a.m.
2/23/1937 Douglas, AK conflagration, a flourishing boom town of 600 of the 700 residents erected crude temporary shelters started in the heart of downtown, presumably in a hardware store.
2/23/1932 the high school in Mt. Pleasant, IA was destroyed by fire.
2/23/1930 a fire started in a waste bandage chute at the five-story St. Joseph’s Hospital in Providence, RI and rapidly extended to the 4th and 5th floor, no one was injured in the fire. A total of 148 patients were relocated.
2/23/1930 Melrose, MA the Friend Brothers bean factory explosion severely injured a man while attempting to light the ovens.
2/23/1929 five were killed and five seriously injured in Glennville, GA, when a “dry” boiler exploded.
2/23/1929 a girl was killed in Jacksonville, IL during a college gymnasium fire. “The stately minuet being danced at a Washington day program in the Illinois Women’s college gymnasium last night turned in a frenzied rush for exits when fire broke out on the gymnasium stage.” “Damage to the gymnasium was slight and except for the frenzied rush there need have been no dead or injured, fire officials said.”
2/23/1912 the Wichita Coal & Mining Company near Lehigh, OK explosion and fire killed up to forty miners.
2/23/1900 Birmingham, AL Metropolitan Hotel was destroyed after a gasoline stove fire spread throughout the building and extended into the and the Hewett block; “a strong fire wall back of the Hewett building and the Metropolitan Hotel prevented the fire from extending any further in that direction.”
2/23/1897 Murray, KY a dynamite explosion at the gravel pit killed seven.
2/22/1880 Wellsboro, Pennsylvania 4 mercantile establishment were destroyed by fire that started from a chimney in the “wooden block from Crafton Street to Wright & Bailey’s new brick store.”