On 3/23/1974 the Caboose Bar at 128 N. 6th Street fire killed nine and injured a dozen more in Allentown, Pennsylvania when a gasoline can was ignited and tossed into a crowded bar. The occupants “were trapped by a boarded back door that should have been their escape route…” “Rage and alcohol fueled the arson that killed nine and injured nine inside the Caboose Tavern while watching basketball. It was March Madness and basketball fever gripped sports fans on this sunny Saturday afternoon. Faster and faster, the smoke danced with the flames, moving swiftly to the back of the building.” “There were about 20 persons in the bar at the time of the incident. The police said patrons had fled to the rear of the building when the gasoline burst into flames and was trapped by a door that was bolted from the inside. The firefighters had to chop through the door to gain access, the officers said. If the back door had indeed been locked, “that definitely would be a violation of the fire code.” According to a witness, “a man was seen opening the door and throwing a can inside.” He did not indicate how the substance in the can was ignited. The action by firefighters in chopping down the back door apparently prevented a worse disaster. Officials said the firefighters were able to rescue several persons crowded in the rear of the bar. Four persons who lived in the apartments above the bar were evacuated.”
On 3/23/1885 the Langham (boarding) House fire killed five of the 200 people in a large five-story family hotel on the corner of Wabash Avenue and Adams Street in Chicago, Illinois that started in the basement and traveled “up the elevator shafts and filled every portion of the building.” “In fifteen minutes the entire building, from the basement to roof, was a red-hot furnace.”
On 3/23/1895 four Denver, Colorado firefighters “died when a floor collapsed during a fire at the Saint James Hotel. All but one member of Hose Company No. 3 lost their lives. The men were groping about in the blinding smoke in the rotunda and the cement floor gave way, causing them to fall into the basement, where they were mangled and suffocated.”
On 3/23/1925 a Wichita Falls, Texas firefighter died at the tailor shop fire. “When he got to the fire, he ran toward the blaze and aimed a firehose. Then, a gasoline drum exploded, and he was covered in flames. He survived through the night but died from his burns.”
On 3/23/1927 a Boston, Massachusetts firefighter “died from injuries he received on March 20, 1927, at 12:35 a.m. Box 648, was a 2-alarm fire at East Eagle & Glendon Streets. The Box was transmitted for a ship fire and while at work at the fire, the firefighter fell into an open hatchway of the Sand Steamer “Nobel Maxwell” moored at 300 Condor Street.”
On 3/23/1954 two Chicago, Illinois firefighters died at a 2-11 fire that erupted at Rocco Rizzo & Son, a paper company located at 618 W. Taylor Street. “The fire was started around 7:00 a.m. when Michael Rizzo, owner of the company, added refuse to the fire in the company’s basement boiler. The fire flared, spreading sparks around the room and igniting piles of rags and papers. The Chicago Fire Department quickly responded to the alarm and firefighters were beginning to attack the blaze when a large blast caused by the heat and smoke inside the building brought down one of the structure’s walls. Twelve firefighters who had been spraying hoses through the basement windows or operating on ladders were buried by the debris, and two firefighters died from their injuries.”
On 3/23/1960 a Waco, Texas firefighter died “after a fire in a dwelling had been knocked down, he went inside to check the attic. As he was climbing up a ladder into the attic, he suddenly fell backward, falling into the arms of several firefighters below him. He was rushed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.”
On 3/23/2009 a Hydro, Oklahoma firefighter died while operating at a possible fire in a large grain bin. “Firefighters entered the bin to investigate. To get out of the bin, firefighters had to climb up a long ladder. One of the firefighters in the bin was fatigued and could not complete the climb. The victim entered the bin to assist the firefighter. Both firefighters subsequently lost consciousness. Firefighters on the exterior cut a hole in the metal wall of the bin and extricated the two firefighters. The first firefighter was transported to the hospital but was pronounced dead. The cause of death was listed as asphyxiation due to probable carbon monoxide toxicity.”
On 3/23/2021 a Spring Valley, New York firefighter “died while searching for victims during a late-night fire in a residential assisted living center. The firefighter was conducting a primary search of the upper floors of the building with the members of the first arriving fire unit and is credited with saving multiple victims. He went back into the building to look for a missing resident on the third floor when he was cut off by the fire. The firefighter issued a mayday call while rescuing the resident. Firefighters attempted to rescue the trapped firefighter but were driven out of the structure by heavy fire and a collapse. Three other firefighters suffered non-life-threatening injuries during the incident. The body of the firefighter was found in the ruins of the building the next day. An elderly female resident also died after being transported to the hospital. Firefighters then shifted their efforts to an exterior attack on the fire to protect attached portions of the complex. A lack of water pressure was a challenge to firefighters, as the hydrants nearby did not produce enough pressure, and a supply hose had to be run nearly two-thirds of a mile to water sources on Route 45. Approximately 125 firefighters from area agencies worked to get the fire under control. Much of the complex was destroyed. The structure involved in the incident was a two- and three-story mixed-construction former motel that had been converted into an assisted living center. The Evergreen Court Home for Adults was located at 65 Lafayette Street in the Rockland County village of Spring Valley, New York, and had a capacity of 200 residents. 112 residents who were living at the facility on the night of the fire exited safely either under their own power or by being carried out by firefighters or Spring Valley police officers. 20 to 30 residents had to be rescued, and 13 residents were injured. Fire officials said at a press conference that they did not know if the entire building had sprinklers.”
On 3/23/2014 an Exterior Insulation and Finish Systems (EIFS) on the outside extended a fire from the 2nd to 31st floor in a high-rise residential building in Shenyang, China, after a worker threw burning material out of a window igniting combustible materials on the 2nd-floor roof deck.
On 3/23/1916 twenty blocks in the residence section and six business blocks of Augusta, Georgia burned leaving “700 houses destroyed and at least 3,000 persons were homeless.”
On 3/23/1901 the historical Concord Mansion built by the Spanish Governor Carlos de Grand Pre in 1789 was destroyed by fire in Natchez, Mississippi.
On 3/23/1900 the Kuskanook, British Columbia conflagration; “a little town at the terminus of the Crows Neck Pass and the Nelson & Bellington Railway has been destroyed by fire.”
On 3/23/1896 near DuBois, Pennsylvania the Berwind White Mine gas explosion killed fifteen.
On 3/23/1884 in the business district of Greenville, Texas, ten frame buildings were destroyed by a fire that started about 4:00 a.m. in the livery stable.
On 3/23/1866 the Pike’s Opera House on Fourth Street in Cincinnati, Ohio was destroyed by a fire that extended across Baker Street and to several buildings on Third Street. “The fire broke out about half an hour after the audience had been dismissed. Its origin has not been fully ascertained, although the supposition is that it was occasioned by the explosion of gas.”
On 3/23/1823 in Erie, Pennsylvania the small brick building that stood in the West Park Court House was destroyed by a fire that started stove ashes deposited into a nail keg and not moved outdoors.