5/4/1973 the National Commission on Fire Prevention and Control published America Burning identifying “the Nation’s fire problem is the indifference with which Americans confront the subject. Destructive fire takes a huge toll on lives, injuries, and property losses, yet there is no need to accept those losses with resignation. There are many measures that can be taken to reduce those losses significantly.”
St. Florian’s Feast Day is celebrated on May 4 every year; St. Florian is the patron saint of firefighters. “As a young Roman army commander, he refused to persecute Christians when ordered to do so. When asked why he professed his Christian faith. The Roman leaders, not amused, punished him by flaying him, burning him alive, and then throwing him into the Enns River with a millstone tied around his neck to drown.”
5/4/1988 the First Interstate Bank fire in Los Angeles, CA started on the 12th floor of the 62-story fire-resistive hire-rise office building that rapidly spread upwards, eventually extending to the 16th floor. Smoke detectors started going off at around 10:30 p.m., after-business-hours, believed to be false, security continued to deactivate the alarm. A sprinkler system was being installed but had not been completed. Sixty-four fire companies ten ambulances fifty-three Command Officers and a complement of 338 firefighters were used during the operation. There was one fatality. “The fire is of great technical significance because of the interior and exterior fire spread, the significant internal smoke spread, and the role of modern office environment materials and their arrangement in relation to fire growth and development.”
5/4/1851 a San Francisco, CA firefighter was trapped and died with four civilians in an iron shuttered building.
5/4/1867 three Chicago (IL) firefighters died while fighting a commercial fire on South Water Street during a structural collapse. The Fire Department responded to the fire at around 10:40 p.m. on May 3, and successfully contained the fire by 1:00 a.m. in the five-story brick building. Around 1:30 a.m. while firefighters were checking for extension on the first and second floors the eastern outer wall collapsed causing the first and second floors to fall into the basement; six firefighters were buried in the debris. Three firefighters were rescued.
5/4/1869 a Baltimore, MD firefighter “died as a result of injuries sustained April 17th, when he became impaled through his back on a spiked iron fence as the front wall of a burning building collapsed.”
5/4/1871 a Valparaiso, IN firefighter “died at the Freeman and Hawkin store fire while removing an awning, trapping him beneath.”
5/4/1900 a Manhattan, New York firefighter died as a result of injuries sustained the previous day when he fell 25 feet from a ladder while operating at an alarm.
5/4/1910 a Peabody, MA firefighter died after being asphyxiated by smoke.
5/4/1951 a Dallas, TX firefighter died while fighting a house fire.
5/4/1955 a Manhattan, New York (FDNY) firefighter “died after collapsing while operating at a fire at 66 Pike Street. He was treated on scene and transported to the hospital where he died shortly after arrival.”
5/4/1978 a Chicago, IL firefighter died “while fighting a fire in two adjoining apartment buildings at 3110 West Taylor Street. He was ventilating the roof of one of the buildings amid thick smoke when he fell into an airshaft between the adjoining structures.”
5/4/2000 a Bluefield, WV firefighter died while fighting a residential structure fire. “He was part of a crew of three that responded with his company. Arriving companies found a working fire on the first and second floors of a 1½ -story wood frame house. He took command of the incident and ordered an attack line through the front door. After completing a 360-degree walk-around of the involved structure, he assisted with the deployment and advancement of a second attack line. The line was stretched to the first floor of the house and was used to control hot spots. He noticed an air leak on his SCBA. The leak was controlled by another firefighter inside the house, but he found that he was out of air and needed a new cylinder. He exited the house, spoke momentarily with the fire chief, and proceeded to his apparatus to get his cylinder changed. He kneeled at the truck to allow the driver/operator to replace his cylinder. The driver/operator asked him if he was okay, he responded that he needed a new cylinder, turned his head, and collapsed. Other firefighters and on-scene paramedics immediately came to his aid.”
5/4/2013 a limo fire killed five on San Mateo Bridge, around 10:00 p.m. as flames burst out in the back of the 1999 Lincoln Town Car; the driver pulled over, and he and four of the women managed to escape, but the other five passengers remained trapped.
5/4/2013 Three hundred fifty people were evacuated after a freight train carrying chemicals, including toxic chemical compound acrylonitrile, crashed and exploded; killing one and injuring seventeen others. The freight train derailed in northwestern Belgium near the city of Ghent.
5/4/2000 a wildland fire that started as a result of a controlled burn near Los Alamos, NM that destroyed 48,000 acres, left 400 families homeless, and damaged several buildings at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
5/41930 Nashua, NH “more than 500 persons lost their homes in a conflagration which destroyed the southeastern section of Nashua.” “Starting in a wooden bridge across the Nashua River, the fire spread to the Nashua Building company lumber plant and from there to the thickly settled residential section.”
5/4/1930 seven tons of tobacco ready for delivery were destroyed by a wildland fire near Windsor, CT.
5/4/1901 a fire destroyed several buildings in Willacoochee, GA.
5/4/1897 a fire in Paris bazaar at Rue Jean Goujon killed 200.
5/4/1887 the Villard Hotel in Brainerd, MN burned. The ninety-one guest along with the staff were able to escape the flames.