FIREFIGHTER HISTORY 2/8

On 2/8/1933 seven Omaha, Nebraska firefighters were killed, and seventeen others were injured in a spectacular fire that destroyed the four-story Millard Hotel when the hotel walls collapsed.  The loss was estimated at $250,000; all 45 guests made it to safety. The four-story historic structure located on the northeast corner of 13th and Douglas Streets was a downtown landmark. “The Mid-West Hotel Reporter (Omaha), of February 10, 1933, included a report, written shortly after the event, of the burning of Omaha’s historic Millard Hotel. “With the mercury down to 15 below zero fire broke out in the Millard Hotel at a late hour Wednesday night. The fire spread rapidly despite the full fighting force of the Omaha department. Water froze wherever it touched exposed places where there was no fire, and the weight of ice brought a collapse of several sections of the burning building.”

On 2/8/1996 a fire occurred in a large board and care facility that left three residents dead and seven others injured just before midnight in Shelby County, Tennessee. The building six-wing irregularly-shaped, two-story, wood-framed structure with sprinklers installed in the central core and office areas, but, not installed in wings containing 162 apartments with 180 residents. The building had an unmonitored fire alarm system with single-station smoke detectors installed in the apartment units. The fire occurred on the second floor in the “extended care” wing containing 16 apartments with one resident per unit. After rescuing the victim in the room of origin the staff left the door open allowing by-products of combustion to escape into the corridor and two other apartments with the doors choked open. The residents in each of these units died of smoke inhalation. The occupant of the room of origin died several days later from his injuries.

On 2/8/1861 a Manhattan, New York firefighter was “killed while operating at a fire in the Ocean Spice and Coffee Mill on Fulton Street. The fire extended to 208 Fulton Street because of an inability to put water on the fire due to the extremely cold temperature. The fire was just about out when the chimney came down injuring several members of Ladder 15, and killing one firefighter that was crushed when it fell. Companies were pulled from the building earlier when the chimney became unstable. The members of Ladder 15 did not hear the call to get out of the building.”

On 2/8/1865 a “disastrous Philadelphia, Pennsylvania fire involving 2,000 barrels of coal oil occurred in a coal oil plant. The streets filled with snow caused the flaming oil to bank up and formed a sea of fire which destroyed 50 dwellings from Washington to Federal Streets and on both sides of 9th Street. In addition to nine civilians, a firefighter was killed while operating at the conflagration.” (Coal oil is a shale oil obtained from the destructive distillation of cannel coal, mineral wax, or bituminous shale, once used widely for illumination.)

On 2/8/1876 two Manhattan, New York (FDNY) firefighters were killed, and a third critically injured, when they were caught under a collapsing wall while operating at a fire. The third firefighter died three days later on February 11th as a result of injuries sustained.

On 2/8/1935 a Cleveland, Ohio firefighter “died as a result of injuries sustained while operating at a fire involving a steel firm.”

On 2/8/1963 a Park Forest, Illinois firefighter died while fighting a construction site fire. At 6:32 p.m., Park Forest firefighters responded to a fire at a Sears, Roebuck & Company store under construction near the intersection of Western and Victory Avenues. Firefighters faced heavy smoke as they moved through the building to extinguish the fire. Because of the low visibility, a firefighter accidentally entered an open elevator shaft and fell from the building’s second floor to the basement. He was quickly rescued from the elevator shaft, but efforts to revive him were unsuccessful.

On 2/8/1976 three Queens, New York (FDNY) firefighters died as a result of injuries they sustained during a collapse. The weight of several large air conditioning units on the fire-weakened roof was blamed for the collapse.

On 2/8/2020 a “tragic house fire in Clinton, Mississippi took the lives of a 33-year-old mother and her six children ages 1 to 15 years old. The father managed to escape the blaze and was hospitalized for smoke inhalation. The fire broke out around 12:30 a.m. about 10 miles northwest of Jackson.

On 2/8/2014 a fire that occurred at the Ishraq Al-Madina Hotel in Saudi Arabia killed fifteen and injured 130 others. There were about 700 guests in the hotel at the time the fire broke out. A large number of people had gathered in front of the hotel, obstructing rescue efforts.

On 2/8/2010 a fire started from a space heater that killed a 59-year-old woman, her 14-year-old granddaughter, and two great-grandchildren in their St. Joseph, Missouri home.

On 2/8/1946 the Loebel’s Volksgaststatte (Restaurant) fire in Berlin, Germany killed eighty-nine and hospitalized forty-four in a rambling stucco dance hall and restaurant where about 800 dancers were celebrating. A fire suddenly appeared from an overheated stovepipe and rapidly spread. The windows remained barred, and the establishment was used as a prison during World War II, trapping many inside.

On 2/8/1946 a welding torch ignited a large quantity of stored paper bags at the Eagle-Picher Lead Company Plant in Joplin, Missouri around 10:30 a.m. The fire injured a firefighter.

On 2/8/1932 the Prince of Wales College and the Provincial Normal School in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada were destroyed by a fire in the two-story brick and stone building that left 370 students without classrooms shortly after 3:00 a.m.

On 2/8/1923 a terrific explosion at Dawson, New Mexico coal mine No. 1 of the Phelps-Dodge Corporation killed seventy around 2:30 p.m. about 5,000 feet from the portal of the mine.

On 2/8/1922 a fire in the historical Treasury Building in Washington, DC fire, apparently started by a gas blow torch or a barrel of kerosene used in roofing work. The fire threatened explosive chemicals that were stored in the test room of the Prohibition Bureau at 4:00 p.m. The building’s “vaults were packed with millions of dollars in currency and gold and silver bullion, in the heart of the Nation’s Capital. All the fire apparatus in the city were summoned to the scene.”

On 2/8/1916 a gas explosion killed nine men working in the Ross vein of the No. 5 slope of the Nottingham mine, in Plymouth, Pennsylvania.

On 2/8/1902 a conflagration in Paterson, New Jersey “burned its way through the business section of the city and claimed as its own a majority of the finer structures devoted to commercial, civic, educational and religious use, as well as scores of houses;” “hundreds were left homeless and thousands without employment” around midnight driven by a northerly gale.

On 2/8/1899 the seven-story Winnipeg, Manitoba Hotel, completed in 1891 and could accommodate 400 guests was destroyed by a fire that extended to the rail office Northern Pacific Railroad with the “mercury 43 below.”

On 2/8/1897 at 2:30 a.m. a fire started in the drug store and extended to four businesses in Ryan, Oklahoma.

On 2/8/1890 a “taxpayer” dwelling house fire in 259-261 North Street Boston, Massachusetts killed eleven, fatally injured three, and seriously injured six. The fire started in Maurice Rubey’s clothing store on the first floor and extended up the stairway to the residence on the three upper floors shortly after midnight.