4/21/1926 the Marsh Wood Products fire in Milwaukee, WI killed six firefighters over the next few days this fire. “Firefighters had responded to a wood products plant for a report of a fire in the boiler room, where a huge bin held tons of sawdust that was used for fuel. The plant had been closed for a week and no fire was visible upon the arrival of firefighters. The Chief and the company president went to the roof and peered down through a scuttle. Several sprinkler heads had activated and were operating, and there was a thin haze of smoke throughout the boiler room, but there were no visible flames. The members of Engine 14 and Truck 8 were ordered to dig through the smoldering sawdust in the bin while the remaining fire companies were ordered to take up. Suddenly, there was a blinding flash and a dozen men became human torches as they were covered with flaming sawdust. Apparently, by their shoveling and use of a hose line, the firefighters had stirred up just enough dust to create a deadly mixture that exploded violently. Bystanders grabbed the first couple of men that staggered out and threw them to the ground, where they worked on smothering the flames that enveloped them. More men came running out screaming in agony as the flames burned their turnout gear off their bodies. Before any ambulances could reach the scene, private cars were commandeered to take the severely burned victims to the hospital, where a makeshift triage area was hastily set up and priests began to administer last rites. The first firefighter died later that day and the second died late that night, after talking and laughing with the priest. Of the other firefighters injured, two died the next day, the fifth died April 24th, and the last man died May 1st. The building had been the scene of several fires, including one in the same sawdust bin two years earlier.”
4/21/1950 a Chicago, IL firefighter “of Engine 51 died from injuries he had suffered in the line of duty two days earlier. On April 19, he and three other firefighters were injured when an oil drum exploded during a coal shed fire at 5746 S. Perry Avenue.”
4/21/1955 a Washington DC firefighter died “while attempting to vent the roof during a three-alarm fire in a two-story basket factory in the 1300 block of Linden Court N.E. He fell through the fire-weakened roof and into the heart of the fire. Despite the efforts of a score of his co-workers, who fought valiantly through the flames to reach him, he died as a result of severe burns and smoke inhalation.”
4/21/1990 a Hollywood, South Carolina firefighter “died after a wall collapsed on him while fighting a fire at the Ravenel Town Hall.”
4/21/1930 the Ohio Penitentiary fire in Columbus, Ohio claimed the lives of 322 inmates after a candle ignited some oily rags left on the roof of the West Block. The fire was discovered just after prisoners were locked into their cells for the evening. Three prisoners, hoping to create a diversion to escape started the fire, two of the three committed suicide in the months following the fire “The prison, built to hold 1,500 people, was almost always overcrowded and notorious for its poor conditions. At the time of the fire, 4,300 prisoners were living in the jail. Construction crews were working on an expansion and scaffolding was set up along one side of the building. On the night of the fire broke out on the scaffolding… The cell block adjacent to the scaffolding housed 800 prisoners, most of whom were already locked in for the night. The inmates begged to be let out of their cells as smoke filled the cell block. However, most reports claim that the guards not only refused to unlock the cells but also continued to lock up other prisoners. Meanwhile, the fire spread to the roof, endangering the inmates on the prison’s upper level as well. Finally, two prisoners forcibly took the keys from a guard and began rescue efforts. Approximately 50 inmates made it out of their cells before the heavy smoke stopped the impromptu evacuation. The roof then caved in on the upper cells. About 160 prisoners burned to death. Although some guards did work to save the lives of their charges, the seemingly willful indifference displayed by other guards led to a general riot. Firefighters initially could not get access to the fire because angry prisoners were pelting them with rocks. By the time the fire was controlled, 320 people were dead and another 130 were seriously injured.”
4/21/2015 a faulty solar panel on the roof of the Hove Town Hall (UK) started a fire in the early afternoon; no injuries were reported. “The source of the fire is believed to be an electrical fault with a solar panel on the roof…Brighton & Hove City Council will check all solar panels on all council buildings following this incident.” “In contrast to the power used by conventional mains electrical equipment, the power that PV (photovoltaic) systems generate is DC (direct current) and parts of the system cannot be switched off. DC installations have a continuous current, making them more hazardous (volt for volt) than normal AC (alternating current) electrical installations.” “Firefighters need to consider the additional roof loading of the array, especially when the purlins/rafters ectara are fire-damaged or water-laden. They also need to consider the fact that DC string cables may be running down through the property from a system that, during daylight hours, is producing voltages anywhere between 400VDC to 1000VDC, and currents between 1A (amps) and 10A, depending on the nature of the installation and the irradiance present. Furthermore, solar PV modules are manufactured to include several potentially hazardous chemicals and materials that may be released as a side-effect of the fire damage. All of these considerations, and more, can lead to the fire service deciding that the level of risk and uncertainty is too high to justify dealing with the property fire at all – resulting in some instances where properties have been left to burn out.”
4/21/2020 four women “were killed in a fire that ripped through the top floor of a Bronx, New York apartment building. The blaze erupted at about 7:20 p.m. in a sixth-floor unit of the building on Grand Concourse near East Mount Eden Avenue in the Claremont section, officials said. After igniting in Apt. 603, the blaze quickly escalated to three alarms and ripped through the roof. One hundred forty responded. The fire was likely caused by a space heater.
4/21/2012 Rayne, LA four children left unattended in a mobile home died in a house fire.
4/21/1880 New York City, NY Madison Square Garden Collapse, killed several when a floor used for dancing pushed out the wall that was supporting it at 9:30 p.m. during the Hahnemann Hospital fair with about 800 people in the building.
4/21/1899 one hundred eleven buildings were destroyed by fire in Dawson, YT.