FIREFIGHTER HISTORY 5/24

On 5/24/1944 the Moose Hall fire killed ten people in Hamilton,  Ontario after a flash fire swept through the crowded brick and wood dance hall structure at the corner of Wilson and Cathcart Streets. “Scores of persons jumped from second and third-story windows.” “Just after midnight fire was reported coming up the stairwell at the Moose Hall, 97 Wilson Street. Employees and friends of Royal Oak Dairy were holding a dance on the second floor of the building. Their exit was blocked by the fire and there was no fire escape. People ran down the burning stairs or jumped out of the second-floor windows, 25 feet above the ground. Ten people died, 33 were injured and 12 children were orphaned. The cause of the fire was a burlap cover on an old chair near the downstairs cloakroom which was set on fire. The fire quickly spread up the staircase and throughout the building. An employee of Royal Oak Dairy at the time pleaded guilty to charges of arson in starting the fire and was also charged with the murder of the 10 people who died in the fire.”

On 5/24/1878 three Hartford, Connecticut firefighters died at “a five-story brick weaving and braiding works heavily involved in fire. The fire quickly grew to general alarm proportions as the fire spread from floor to floor. At the height of the blaze, eight firefighters were buried under tons of rubble when one of the walls collapsed without warning. Rescuers immediately went to work digging out their comrades, five of who were found alive, but injured. Two firefighters were found dead. One firefighter was still alive when he was finally dug out but died a few hours later.”

On 5/24/1922 three Milwaukee, Wisconsin “were asphyxiated by gas in National Avenue sewer tunnel while trying to rescue two workers who had gone down into an 82-foot-deep shaft and didn’t come back up. The first firefighter entered the shaft but did not return, the second firefighter went in after him. Both men were wearing canister masks and neither returned. The third firefighter went in after both of them wearing an oxygen mask but passed out when he got to the bottom of the shaft and took the mask off. Dozens of firefighters went in after their comrades and many were also overcome before the bodies of the five men were found and removed. The first firefighter to enter the confined space had come in contact with a live wire and was severely burned, but the death of the five men was attributed to asphyxiation due to an accumulation of methane and carbon monoxide gases from an underground marsh.”

On 5/24/1948 a Minneapolis, Minnesota firefighter “died at a fire in the basement of Jack’s Restaurant at 413 Hennepin Avenue South. His crew had worked a hoseline down the rear stairs into the basement when a sudden build-up of heat and smoke drove them back. He collapsed before he could reach the stairs; the rest of the crew, nearly overcome themselves, were able only to pull him to the foot of the stairs before they had to flee. Fresh crews soon brought him out, but he had succumbed to asphyxiation.”

On 5/24/1952 a Detroit, Michigan firefighter “was killed by a wall collapse while fighting a fire at F.M. Sibley Lumber Company on the east side of the city. The fire started on the 2nd -floor of a 3-story brick milling plant. The fire reached a 5th alarm. The wall collapse occurred about an hour into fighting the fire. It took 3 hours to contain the fire. Thankfully it was stopped before spreading to another block-long section of the lumber company. Damage to the building was estimated at $1,000,000.”

On 5/24/1997 a Kenmore, New York firefighter “died as a result of critical injuries sustained May 5th, when he and five other firefighters were caught under a collapsing wall while operating at a three-alarm fire in a paint store. In addition to a broken jaw and pelvis, and lost teeth, he suffered collapsed lungs, a bruised heart and liver, pneumonia, and a lung infection. He had been on a respirator since he was injured. The other five firefighters who were injured were released from the hospital.”

On 5/24/1964 a riot erupted at the National Stadium in Lima, Peru during a soccer match between Peru and Argentina leaving over 300 dead and another 500 people injured.