On 3/24/1999 the Mont Blanc Tunnel fire occurred when a truck carrying 12 tons of flour and 9 tons of margarine entered the French side of the 7.2-mile tunnel connecting France and Italy in the Alps. Smoke from the area around the truck’s cab was detected by a tunnel smoke sensor at 10:52 a.m. the command centers located at either end did not respond; sensors on the Italian side had been turned off due to a false alarm. The French operator could not determine the cause of the alarm and allowed vehicles to continue to enter the tunnel from both ends. The truck driver noticed the smoke and stopped midway through the tunnel to investigate when the cab exploded in flames. At 10:54, emergency phones in a rest area alerted the command centers to close both entrances; however, many vehicles were trapped in the tunnel with nowhere to go. Some of the trapped occupants left their vehicles and ran for safety, but were overcome by smoke and fume that was pushed by air flowing from the Italian side. Intense fire and impenetrable smoke with temperatures reaching more than 1,800oF, ignited the asphalt road surface hampering suppression operations. Many people died seat belted in their cars, those that managed to reach the tunnel’s emergency refuges area, having a two-hour fire rating, fared little better; temperatures inside the refuges reached 700oF, killing the inhabitants. Thirty-eight people died including one firefighter, and 25 vehicles were destroyed in the fire that burned for more than 50 hours.
On 3/24/1893 two Denver, Colorado firefighters “were killed from the injuries they sustained after a wall had collapsed on them at the Summit Fuel and Feed Company fire.”
On 3/24/1899 a Cleveland, Ohio firefighter died “while operating at a fire in a machine shop, he was killed when he was caught in a floor collapse.”
On 3/24/1900 three Manhattan, New York (FDNY) firefighters died “while operating at a three-alarm fire, they drowned after being pitched into eight feet of water in the cellar of the building when it collapsed. Several other firefighters were injured when they fell into the water attempting to rescue the trapped men. Fifty-four firefighters were overcome by intense heat and smoke and several others were seriously injured.”
On 3/24/1911 five Milwaukee, Wisconsin firefighters were killed in a building collapse at the Middleton Manufacturing Company fire, a wholesale hatter, 354 Broadway, the result of the caving in of the roof of the building. “The fire had been burning half an hour and between fifteen and twenty men had been fighting the flames from the roof of the four-story structure, when suddenly the roof collapsed, carrying them through to the basement. A number of the firefighters were buried in the debris, while others escaped through basement windows.”
On 3/24/1945 two Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada firefighters were killed, and four others are injured fighting the Robinson and Webber building fire at Princess and Bannatyne during a collapse.
On 3/24/1947 a Boston, Massachusetts firefighter died after he “suffered severe injuries and drowned in the basement after falling through a hole in the floor at a three-alarm fire, 116-120 Brighton Avenue, Box 5123.”
On 3/24/1980 a Portland, Maine firefighter died as a result of burns and asphyxiation while fighting a three-alarm fire at the Phoenix Nightclub, at 83 Oak Street. “On arrival, firefighters found heavy smoke and fire showing from a nightclub, which was formerly a church. All the windows had been bricked up and truck companies were having a tough time venting the slate roof. Hose crews entered the lobby and began to move up an interior stairway to the main bar and dance floor located on the second floor. Suddenly, a backdraft occurred, blowing the hose crews down the stairs. The fire went to three alarms as the building now became heavily involved in fire and a headcount was ordered. When it was discovered that a firefighter was missing, three crews of firefighters entered the burning structure to search for their missing comrade. They were able to make it to the second floor, where they found his helmet, but due to the ceiling and roof beginning to collapse, and a worsening fire condition, everyone was forced from the building. After regrouping and awaiting the arrival of third alarm companies, three more crews entered the still-burning structure with a big hoseline. After a time, they found the firefighter’s body deep in the large room.”
On 3/24/1980 a fire in “a one-story metal warehouse, filled with bales of tissue paper, killed three industrial firefighters and two employees of the company in Lewiston, Idaho. Upon arrival, firefighters found smoke showing from the warehouse with no visible flames. The sprinkler system was operating, and two firefighters began to stretch a hoseline into the building. About ten feet into the door, several 750-pound bales of water-soaked tissue paper collapsed on the firefighters. Seeing the bales fall, seven additional firefighters and employees ran to their aid, three of them becoming trapped in a secondary collapse of bales. As rescuers worked carefully to remove their trapped brothers, a third collapse took place, toppling more bales onto the trapped men. Rescue efforts continued for six hours until the last victim was located. All of the victims died of suffocation. A total of seven other brigade firefighters suffered injuries in the collapses ranging from smoke inhalation to back injuries.”
On 3/24/2012 two adults and seven children died in a Charleston, West Virginia house fire, the home had only one working smoke detector, and it was not in a location where it would have helped.
On 3/24/1993 the Hasaka Prison fire killed fifty-seven in Damascus, Syria. “Five prisoners, aged between 25 and 33, who were common criminals set fire to the prison to avoid being caught trafficking drugs.” The five Syrian prisoners were hanged on May 20, 1993.
On 3/24/1911 in Fayette, Alabama a fire started in the drug store and it spread rapidly from building to building including eight residences, the courthouse and jail, a new hotel, the bank, four general merchandise stores, the two-story Masonic Temple, a millinery store, a jewelry repair store, a restaurant, a hardware & furniture store, a livery stable, and a warehouse with over 350 bales of cotton.
On 3/24/1910 a fire left more than 200 families homeless as more than 300 buildings were destroyed in Mount Hope, West Virginia.
On 3/24/1894 near Franklin, Washington thirty-seven miners were killed in a mine accident.
On 3/24/1882 the Standard Glass Varnish Company was destroyed by fire shortly after 10:00 a.m. at 20 North Fifth Street Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The company occupied the third, fourth, and fifth floors of the building; the two lower floors were occupied by a wholesale druggist. The fire started with an explosion from overheated varnish near the furnace on the third floor.
On 3/24/1882 all but two houses on the south side of Main Street were destroyed by fire in McArthur, Ohio.
On 3/24/1855 a large portion of Sandersville, Georgia was destroyed by fire; over forty buildings were consumed.