On 5/23/1964 the All Hallows Church Parish Hall fire killed seventeen and injured seventy-five in San Francisco, California. “The fire started accidentally during the lighting of a fiery ceremonial sword during a Polynesian festival and quickly spread through the hall. A pan of gasoline ignited while the Samoan torch dancer was attempting to light the sword at the climax of his dance. As it was lighted, the can of gas was set afire. A bystander turned a pressurized water fire extinguisher on the flames. Flowing with the mixture from the extinguisher, the fire raced across the stage to the curtains. A dozen boys and girls on the stage took off their grass skirts and attempted to beat out the flames. As the flames leaped up the walls, the guests ran to escape. Many of the injured were caught in a stampede for the exits.”
On 5/23/2017 a Macon County, Montezuma, Georgia firefighter “died in the hospital several days after suffering a traumatic brain injury while at the scene of a working residential structure fire off Georgia 128 near Taylor County, on Saturday, May 20, 2017. According to initial reports, the firefighter was donning protective gear when the accident occurred. As other firefighters were setting up a hose line, the fire hose snagged on a truck, causing a coupling to strike him in the head knocking him to the ground. The firefighter was treated at the scene and rushed to the hospital where a CT (computed tomography) scan showed he had suffered a stroke on the left side of his brain and that his skull was seriously fractured. The firefighter later underwent surgery, but succumbed to his injury on the evening of May 23, 2017.”
On 5/23/2004 a South Wales, United Kingdom firefighter “died after he was caught in a fireball in an explosion at a burning wooden bingo hall in Ely, Cardiff. He was the first firefighter to enter the building with a hose line after it had been engulfed in flames up to 30 feet high. Two colleagues were also caught up in the flames and were burned. Despite their facial injuries, they went inside to rescue their crewmate. The two men fought to resuscitate the firefighter, but he was found to be dead on arrival at the hospital. The other two officers were released from the hospital after treatment.”
On 5/23/1932 a Hagerstown, Maryland firefighter on May 18, 1932 “was overcome by smoke and stepped onto a ladder that was placed against a window. The hooks of the ladder weren’t secured, and the ladder slipped. He fell 35 to 40 to the ground. He died on May 23, 1932, of the injuries he sustained.”
On 5/23/1935 the McPhee & McGinnity building, lumber, paint, and building supply company, was destroyed by fire in Denver Colorado.
On 5/23/1986 at approximately 1:22 p.m. an explosion and subsequent fire occurred at an abandoned automotive service station while underground gasoline storage tanks were being removed in downtown Portland, Maine. “The accumulation of gasoline vapors ignited when a vehicle ignition was turned on, resulting in an explosion of a nearby tank being freed of flammable vapors. The tank end separated from the shell and both segments were propelled in opposite directions. One worker died as a result of being struck by a segment of the tank and the others were injured either by flying debris or burned from the resulting fire.”
On 5/23/1995 at 8:23 p.m., a four-alarm bulk merchandising store fire in Quincy, Massachusetts damaged the single-story noncombustible construction 122,395 square foot building with merchandise and bulk storage displayed on a metal double rack system protected by a fire alarm and sprinkler system occupied by approximately sixty employees and one-hundred customers. The accidental fire started in the lower storage rack of an area that stored pool chemicals; “probably caused by a chemical reaction involving the pool chemicals and leaking motor oil.”
On 5/23/2020 a huge fire “tore through a warehouse on San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf that destroyed fishing gear used to deliver about two-thirds of the city’s fresh seafood, threatening to disrupt the upcoming Dungeness crab season, local fishermen said Sunday. The fire erupted before dawn Saturday and wiped out the warehouse the size of a football field near the end of Pier 45. It was estimated that thousands of crab, shrimp, and black cod traps worth up to $5 million were lost in the blaze. The San Francisco Chronicle reported the numbers could be far higher since port officials changed the warehouse’s function into a storage facility in February because it lacked proper fire sprinklers. “Pier 45 is the heart and soul of commercial fishing out of the Bay Area.” “To take a hit like this, it’s a bad one.”