3/20/1905 Brockton, MA, a boiler explosion, and fire claimed fifty-eight lives at the R. B. Grover & Company, a four-story wooden (heavy timber) shoe factory. 360 of the 450 employees were working when the old out of service fire-tube boiler was reconnected. The faulty boiler erupted with a force comparable to 661 pounds of dynamite, causing the roof of the factory buckled, each floor caved in on the next, dropping wooden beams, heavy machinery, and other debris into a heap. The explosion caused gas lines to rupture creating a fire storm that extended to four acres and the destruction of five buildings and four houses and damaged three other homes. A second boiler explosion in Lynn, MA resulted in the creation of the nation’s first Board of Boiler Rules within the Department of Public Safety and the development of American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code.
3/20/1928 an Omaha, NE firefighter “died from the injuries he sustained after having fallen from the roof of the Barker Block Office Building at 306 S. 15th Street, while operating at a fire.”
3/20/1932 a Saint Paul, MN firefighter “died from injuries in a fall from roof at March 9 fire, Rose & Weide.”
3/20/1943 a Saint Louis, MO firefighter “died while directing the firefighting efforts at the Goodwill Industries warehouse at 713 Howard St. in north St. Louis City. When the north wall of the warehouse started wobbling, he rushed up the fire escape to warn his firefighters. When the north wall collapsed, he and seven other firefighters injured. The firefighter was trapped under the collapsed wall. Rescuers quickly dug him out, but he had a skull fracture and died in route to the hospital.”
3/20/1948 a Lynn, MA firefighter died “while operating at a two-alarm fire in a storage shed at an electric plant, firefighters were attempting to hook a chain to a wall, so it could be pulled away, when a violent magnesium explosion occurred. A half-dozen-men were hurled through the air by the force of the blast and landed on the ground. The victim was thrown into a Caterpillar tractor and suffered massive head injuries. He was rushed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.”
3/20/1949 a Los Angeles, CA firefighter died during a fire at the Star Distributing & Manufacturing Company (electrical manufacturing company), Third and San Pedro Streets, Box 1236. Upon arrival they found heavy smoke coming from the basement. He and three other firefighters donned Gibbs breathing apparatus and took a line down into the basement. He became separated from his company and was later found by rescuers in several feet of water under the stairway.”
3/20/1971 a Chicago, IL firefighter died “during an extra alarm fire at a vacant building at 715 E. 63rd Street. He and another firefighter were operating a hose line when the building suddenly collapsed. The firefighters were trapped under rubble that had fallen from the second and third floors of the building.”
3/20/1980 an Elizabeth, NJ firefighter died “while making an interior attack on the third-floor at an extremely hot and smoky four-alarm fire in a three-story brick bank building, where he collapsed. CPR was started, he was removed from the building, and rushed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.”
3/20/1984 an Austin, TX firefighter “died as a result of second and third-degree burns over 50% of his body, sustained March 10th when he was caught in a gas tank explosion.”
3/20/1993 a Jersey City, NJ firefighter “was near his home when a passerby told him about a fire on Palisade Avenue near Hutton Street and he immediately ran there and began helping two fellow firefighters raise a 35-foot ladder to evacuate the building. But the three firefighters slipped on ice and the ladder struck overhead power lines, electrocuting him. He was killed at a three-alarm fire in the three-story rowhouse at 411 Palisades Avenue.”
3/20/2001 an Anderson Township, Ohio firefighter died at a structural fire in a residence. with persons trapped. As firefighters approached the scene, smoke was visible. The first floor of the structure was searched, and fire in the bedrooms was controlled with a handline. There was still a significant amount of fire in the attic, and the incident commander gave the order to evacuate the building. An exterior attack was made on the fire with handlines and a master stream. After the fire was knocked down, three firefighters made entry into the first floor. A soft spot in the floor was noted as firefighters worked their way down the hall. An additional group of firefighters were working to control a fire in the basement. Conditions were worsening on the first floor and that they needed to leave the structure. As they turned to exit, he fell through the soft spot in the floor into the basement. The firefighter that had been working with him attempted to reach down through the hole and pull him back to the first floor. After four unsuccessful attempts, the firefighter left the building and alerted other firefighters to the situation.”
3/20/2002 a Palisade, NE firefighter “collapsed on the front lines while battling a wildland fire. He was transported to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.”
3/20/2009 a fire destroyed the Egyptian-themed entrance to Empress Casino in Joliet, IL, the casino was evacuated before firefighters arrived, and no one was injured. The fire is believed to have been started by welders working on a kitchen duct system about 10:00 a.m. “The building’s unusual construction, which includes “void spaces” inside walls and second and third ceilings, may have allowed the blaze to quickly spread past a firewall and kept crews from accurately targeting the fire.”
3/20/1995 a sarin gas attack on the subway killed twelve and injured 6,000 in Tokyo, Japan, during morning rush, five two-man teams of terrorist from the Aum Shinrikyo religious cult converge at the Kasumigaseki station and release the deadly gas
3/20/1979 Linden, NJ the Exxon oil refinery explosion and fire in a 90-foot processing unit at the 1,500-acre complex injured six at the plant that processes about 275,000 barrels of crude oil daily into lighter oils and gasoline products about 12:30 a.m.
3/20/1970 an incendiary fire at the Ozark Hotel in Seattle, Washington claimed twenty lives after a flammable liquid was poured and ignited on the first-floor level with two open stairways and quickly spread throughout the building leaving the stairs and corridors useless.
3/20/1915 Hoosick Falls, NY several buildings were destroyed by a fire that started in the Easton Thorpe block, from a heater, and extended to business section of the town.
3/20/1913 Carroll, IA a downtown fire originating in the basement of a department store in the Masonic Temple building was completely destroyed and damaged the adjoining building.
3/20/1912 San Bois #2 coal mine explosion killed seventy-three in McCurtin, OK around 7:00 a.m.
3/20/1911 Cisco, TX a fire destroyed several wood frame buildings in the business block that originated in a restaurant.
3/20/1910 a fire destroyed the main building of the Cherokee Seminary at Tahlequah, OK; this was one of the oldest institutions of the Cherokee Nation.
3/20/1905 Thurmond, WV a coal mine explosion at the in the Bush Run and Red Ash Mine killed twenty-four.
3/20/1902 Lexington, KY 282 children were safely evacuated from the “state school of reform” around 1:00 a.m. that extended to the building used as offices, dormitory for boys and the manual training building.
3/20/1872 the Ohio Falls Car Works, in Jeffersonville, IN was destroyed by fire around 2:00 p.m. that started among shavings in the planing mill and spread to the remainder of the works and lumber yard. “The buildings alone covered five acres of ground, besides a number of sheds and lumber yards” and employed about 700 men. “One man is missing, and it is feared is burned to death.”
3/20/1944 a bus fell off a bridge into Passaic River in New Jersey that killed sixteen.
3/20/1345 the “Black Death” (bubonic plague caused by the Yersinia pestis bacterium) was allegedly created from “a triple conjunction of Saturn, Jupiter and Mars in the 40th degree of Aquarius” swept across Europe, the Middle East and Asia; despite these scholars claimed, it is now known that bubonic plague, bacteria primarily carried by fleas