May 15 of each year is “Peace Officers Memorial Day” and the week in which it falls is “Police Week.” President John F. Kennedy declared the first Peace Officers Memorial Day on May 15, 1962, as a tribute to and in honor of peace officers who, through their courageous deeds, lost their lives or became disabled in the line of duty. This day has been observed in our country annually ever since.
On 5/15/1929 the Crile Clinic fire in Cleveland, Ohio left 125 dead when poisonous gas and smoke released by overheated nitrate x-ray film filled the main building on E. 93rd Street and Euclid Avenue. The fire started around 11:30 a.m. from an explosion in the X-ray film stock stored in the basement and released the deadly yellowish-brown poison gas that filtered through the four-story brick building. “The fire began when an exposed light bulb was too close to nitrocellulose x-ray film, igniting the film. The film was known to be highly volatile, unstable, and extraordinarily flammable.” “The hollow center of the building soon filled with gases. The intense heat below sent the fumes swirling upward. The explosions forced deadly fumes into the pipe tunnel system and nearly every room of every floor of the clinic. Before anyone had an opportunity to escape a second blast blew out the skylight and filled every corner of the building with the deadly bromine gas.” “The disaster was responsible for significant changes to fire fighting techniques. The city of Cleveland issued gas masks to firefighters and advocated creating an ambulance service for the city. Nationally, medical facilities established new standards for storing hazardous materials such as x-ray film.”
On 5/15/1908 a Milwaukee, Wisconsin firefighter “drowned in the Menomonee River while working at Lehigh Transportation fire.”
On 5/15/1924 a Little Rock, Arkansas firefighter died “while trying to bring a fire under control that involved three houses. As he was bringing a hose line down a ladder, he suddenly collapsed. Despite several attempts to revive him, the extremely exhausted firefighter died.”
On 5/15/1962 a Brooklyn, New York (FDNY) firefighter died as a result of injuries sustained while operating at a single-alarm fire.
On 5/15/1963 a Manhattan, New York (FDNY) firefighter died “while operating at an exceptionally stubborn five-alarm fire in the basement of a bargain store, a large two-story brick commercial building, he was overcome by smoke and died of asphyxiation. More than 50 other firefighters were overcome or injured also.”
On 5/15/1981 three Montréal, Québec, Canada firefighters died in a seven-story office building fire. “At 8:00 p.m. the fire department responded to a fire in a seven-story office building in Old Montreal. The fire was well involved on the top floor of the building at Saint Pierre Street and des Recollets Street and required a five-alarm response. As crews battled the fire from a defensive position around 11:00 p.m., the top three floors suddenly collapsed into the narrow street killing the three firefighters.”
On 5/15/2019 a mother and two children were killed in a two-alarm Hillsborough County, Florida fire. “According to officials, the fire started on a second-floor unit at the Captiva Club Apartments in Town ‘n’ Country shortly before 3:30 a.m. During a secondary search, firefighters found the mother and her two children dead in their apartment. Eight apartments were damaged by fire, smoke, and water damage. Ten adults and two children have been displaced.
On 5/15/2015 Bellandur Lake in India was so polluted it caught fire. “For several weeks, Bellandur Lake has been covered with several feet of toxic foam that some have said resembles snow from far away. Beneath the snow-white lather, the water has turned black from chemicals and sewage. The foam caught fire.”
On 5/15/2011 six people including three children died in an apartment fire that swept through a three-floor apartment building where thirty-five people lived in Aurora, Illinois.
On 5/15/2011 a mobile home fire killed a 24-year-old woman and three boys, ages three, six, and nine years old on South First Street in Conroe, Texas which started around 2:40 a.m.
On 5/15/1920 two buildings, Marquard Chapel and Dickinson Hall, at Princeton University in New Jersey were destroyed by fire.
On 5/15/1907 the three-story brick Logan County Children’s Home in Bellefontaine, Ohio was destroyed by fire; all of the 42 children were saved.
On 5/15/1890 in Ashley, Pennsylvania the Baltimore No. 4 Mine explosion left twenty-eight dead.
On 5/15/1880 in the village of Milton, Pennsylvania 666 buildings were destroyed by a fire.
On 5/15/2001 the CSX 8888 incident, also known as the Crazy Eights incident, involved an unmanned runaway train led by CSX Transportation locomotive #8888, pulling a freight train consisting of 47 cars, some of them loaded with hazardous chemicals. The train ran uncontrolled for two hours at speeds of up to 51 miles per hour through Ohio. It was finally brought to a stop with the help of a railroad crew in a second locomotive, which caught up with the runaway and coupled to the rear car. The 2010 action film “Unstoppable” directed by Tony Scott, written by Mark Bomback, and starring Denzel Washington and Chris Pine is loosely based on this incident.”
On 5/15/1972 a bus plunged into the Nile River and killed fifty pilgrims near Minia, Egypt.