4/13/1970 the oxygen tank onboard Apollo 13 exploded 200,000 miles from Earth during the third manned lunar landing mission. Mission Commander Lovell reported to mission control: “Houston, we’ve had a problem here,”
4/13/1859 an Atlanta, GA firefighter died “during a fire in a hardware store on East Alabama Street, firefighters were attempting to stave off a major explosion by carrying kegs of burning gunpowder from the store. While carrying one of these kegs, he stumbled and fell across the keg. There was a violent explosion and he was killed instantly.”
4/13/1887 a Chicago, IL firefighter died “while fighting a commercial fire at 15 North Wabash Avenue. Firefighters arrived on scene shortly after 8:00 a.m. He and another firefighter climbed the building’s standpipe to the fifth floor. The two firefighters entered the building through a window, to ventilate the fifth floor, but their entry point was almost immediately cut off by flames. While the other firefighter darted through the flames and escaped back out the window, he moved further into the building to try and exit via the stairwell. After the flames at the window were extinguished, the second firefighter returned to the fifth floor, but he discovered that the first firefighter had been overcome by smoke and suffocated to death. The fire progressed, and the building was largely destroyed in the blaze.
4/13/1891 an Omaha, NE firefighter “died from the injuries he sustained after a wall had collapsed on him at the Paxton Annex building fire at 14th and Farnam Street.
4/13/1910 six New Haven, CT firefighters “died from the burns they suffered after being trapped behind metal doors and barred windows in a fire at the old County Jail on Whalley Avenue. Five other firefighters were seriously injured.”
4/13/1931 four firefighters from the Chicago, IL died during a fire in an underground sewer tunnel along with seven sewer workers. They died in the confines of a 450-foot sewer tunnel that was under construction thirty-five feet below the intersection of 22nd and Laflin Streets. “The fire started at approximately 6:30 p.m. when sewer workers using a candle tried to locate a leak in the tunnel accidentally ignited some sawdust. The fire burned and spread for more than forty-five minutes before the fire department was alerted. Truck 14 was the first apparatus on the scene, and, seeing only a thin curl of smoke rising out of the tunnel, the five firefighters descended into the tunnel via its only access point: an elevator. None of the firefighters were wearing masks or oxygen (air) tanks and fifteen minutes after they descended into the tunnel, three of the firefighters emerged, suffering from intense smoke inhalation. Some firefighters, along with several workers, were still in the tunnel, firefighters from Engine 23 entered the tunnel, but they, too, did not have masks or oxygen (air) tanks and several of them were also overcome with smoke inhalation inside the tunnel. This scenario was repeated several times, as the limited access to the tunnel did not give fire officers an accurate understanding of the intensity of the fire, smoke, and gases inside the tunnel. During the next two hours, more than fifty firefighters who had entered and exited the tunnel were suffering from smoke inhalation injuries. While injured firefighters were rescued during these operations, some of the rescuers became trapped or injured themselves down in the tunnel.
The fire department was soon informed by the construction company about the possibility that some of the missing firefighters and sewer workers could have sealed themselves inside an airtight compartment at one end of the tunnel. In actuality, sixteen missing firefighters and sewer workers had sealed themselves inside the compartment, but their only means of escape was blocked by the fire, smoke, and gases. Firefighters on the surface, however, continued to descend into the tunnel throughout the night, in an effort to reach their trapped colleagues. Every firefighter was now equipped with masks and oxygen (air) tanks, some loaned by suburban fire departments eager to contribute to the rescue efforts. Also, during the night, a smoke ejector machine, designed by Chief Charles W. Ringer of the Minneapolis Fire Department, was delivered to Chicago from the manufacturer in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The machine consisted of a massive fan mounted on a truck, with an intake tube that could be placed inside the tunnel. The machine was put into operation at daylight, and it soon evacuated most of the smoke and toxic gases from the tunnel. The sixteen firefighters and sewer workers sealed in the airtight compartment were soon able to escape, and, over the next few hours, firefighters were able to recover the bodies of the dead firefighters and sewer workers from the tunnel.”
4/13/1933 “four alarms were transmitted for a stubborn fire in a Brook Avenue (New York, New York) meatpacking plant just after midnight. The fire was extremely difficult to fight, and 15 firefighters were overcome by the dense smoke. As that fire operation was going on another alarm, a civilian arrived at the scene excitedly reporting a bad fire only blocks away with people trapped! With many men already committed, make-shift crews scrambled to respond, including one ladder truck with a deputy chief. It was 2:30 in the morning when units arrived to find a fire on the upper floors of a five-story tenement at 506 Brook Avenue. Among the first due companies was Hook & Ladder 26 from Harlem. They hurried into the blazing building where 30 men, women and children were trapped. Under extreme conditions a firefighter was able to rescue two children, ages 4 and 6 years old. His boss, a lieutenant rescued a 10-year-old girl. Both men would be awarded medals for their heroism. As a matter of fact, every member of H&L 26 was placed on the Roll of Merit for their bravery and numerous rescues at this fire.
4/13/1995 Hobart, IN firefighter while searching for two reportedly trapped occupants at an early-morning fire in an occupied 2-½-story frame dwelling, he and his partner became trapped on the second floor when the fire came up the stairwell. They had run out of air and were able to make their way to a bedroom window, where he helped his partner onto a ladder. Suddenly, the room flashed over and he was killed. Four other firefighters were injured, none seriously. The fire also claimed the lives of two children.
4/13/2015 a fire that started at 9:56 a.m. at a Jieyang, Guangdong province, China recycling facility that killed four people.
4/13/2014 Veracruz, Mexico thirty-six people were killed after a passenger bus crashed into a broken-down truck and burned, shortly after midnight.
4/13/1976 a munitions-works warehouse explosion killed forty-five (mainly female employees) in Lapua, Finland. The factory opened in 1927 as the State Cartridge Factory and primary supplier of ammunition to the Finnish Army during the Winter War and World War II.
4/13/1918 Norman, OK a fire in the State Hospital (for the insane) leaves thirty-eight boys from ages 10 to 15 dead after, the fire was discovered in a linen closet.
4/13/1911 the Polo Grounds wood grandstand and left field bleachers, home of the New York Giants, burned.
4/13/1904 an explosion of 2,000 pounds of powder in the after twelve-inch turret of the Battleship USS MISSOURI off the coast of Pensacola, FL left twenty-nine sailors dead.
4/13/1878 a conflagration in Clarksville, TN destroyed most of the business district.
4/13/1872 the business district of Ayer, MA was destroyed by fire that started around 11:30 p.m. that spread along the north side of Main Street between the Worcester and Nashua Railroad and the Lowell freight depot.
4/13/1856 Richmond, VA around 1:00 a.m. a fire started at a carriage factory on Eighteenth Street, between Franklin and Grace that spread to a wheelwright and blacksmith shop and then extended to Christ Church, on Grace Street.