On 5/12/1996 an accidental fire at the University of North Carolina Phi Gamma Delta fraternity house at approximately 6:00 a.m. killed five and injured three others. The three-story building with an unfinished attic and a walk-out basement, Type III (211) construction built in 1927 with masonry exterior bearing walls, wood frame interior walls covered with gypsum wallboard and plaster, and wood-frame floor assemblies. The first floor had several lounges and a suite for the chapter president; the second and third floors contained twenty bedrooms; the basement contained a large dining/lounge/bar room, a secret chapter room, a kitchen, a boiler/mechanical room, a lavatory, and several storage rooms. The fire started from smoking materials most likely ignited the contents of a wastebasket in the basement-level bar that subsequently ignited the bar area’s combustible interior finish and spread to the combustible interior finish and furnishings.
On 5/12/1881 a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania firefighter “died from injuries he sustained at a single-alarm wool mill fire at 612 N. 24th Street, on May 2, 1881.”
On 5/12/1906 two Trenton, New Jersey firefighters died “while operating at a major fire involving a plastering firm, they were killed when the building collapsed, burying them under tons of cement and rubble.”
On 5/12/1906 a Sidney, Ohio firefighter “died from the injuries he sustained while operating at a fire at the W. D. John residence on Wilkinson Avenue. He fell approximately 32 feet when the ladder he was standing on broke.”
On 5/12/1908 a Boston, Massachusetts firefighter “died after he contracted blood poisoning. He had come in contact with anthrax while handling wool while operating at a fire.”
On 5/12/1931 a Chicago, Illinois firefighter “was fatally injured while fighting a fire in a furniture plant at the intersection of 76th and Wallace Streets on May 11th. He fell through the roof of the five-story building, became trapped on the fourth floor, and jumped four floors to the street below to escape the flames. He died the following day, May 12, at St. Bernard’s Hospital.
On 5/12/1953 a Boston, Massachusetts firefighter “died from injuries he received when he fell from a ground ladder in the rear of the building when a wall collapsed. The fire was in a paper warehouse at 512-520 Dudley Street, Roxbury, on November 1, 1952. Three alarms were struck on Box 3141, (Dudley & East Cottage Streets) [now Box 1721]. The Mack tractor of Ladder Company 4 was damaged extensively in the collapse.”
On 5/12/1979 a Los Angeles, California firefighter died in an arson fire that occurred in a one-story brick warehouse. “On arrival, firefighters found several fires burning and made an interior attack, quickly bringing the fires under control. As firefighters were overhauling, a sudden flare-up occurred after a container of flammable liquid, which had been dripping, vaporized, and ignited, spreading fire across the ceiling and into other unburned areas and stock. A headcount revealed a firefighter was missing and an immediate search and rescue effort was launched. His unconscious body was found lying on the floor without his facepiece. He was rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead of heat, smoke, and carbon monoxide inhalation. It was determined that the fire was an arson.”
On 5/12/2013 a family of six died in a late-night fire in Pottsville, Pennsylvania; four children ages 2, 3, 7, and 8, and two adults, 30 & 26, were killed after a fire broke out around midnight. Video from the scene shows smoke and flames just pouring out of the windows as firefighters tried to get control.
On 5/12/1944 the Oroville, California Union Hotel fire killed five that started around 3:00 a.m. “near the rear of the brick building and shortly after a barrel of fuel oil near the building exploded.”
On 5/12/1942 the Christopher #3 coal mine explosion killed fifty-six near Osage, West Virginia on Scotts Run, a small tributary of the Monongahela River.
On 5/12/1860 the Nebraska City, Nebraska conflagration consumed forty-six of the best business houses.
On 5/12/1855 the Springfield, Illinois conflagration destroyed “nine stores and one or two buildings of less consequence.”