7/18/2001 the Howard Street Tunnel fire (also known as the Baltimore Freight Rail Crash) started after a 60-car CSX Transportation freight train derailment in a freight through-route tunnel under Howard Street in Baltimore, Maryland. The train consisted of 60 cars. Car numbers 46 through 56 derailed in the Howard Street Tunnel at 3:08 p.m. and became disconnected from the first 45 cars resulting automatic emergency brake application. The derailment sparked a chemical fire that burned for six days shut down the downtown area. A water main ruptured causing significant flooding in the streets above the incident, disrupted East Coast rail service, and slowed Internet service in the U.S. with the destruction of a cable passing through the tunnel. “A numerical simulation by the National Institute of Standards and Technology found that the peak calculated temperatures within the tunnel were approximately 1,800°F within the flaming regions, and on average approximately 900°F when averaged over a length of the tunnel equal to three to four rail car lengths. Due to the insulation of the tunnel’s thick brick walls, the temperature was relatively uniform across all the cars, approaching temperatures normally found in an oven or furnace: The peak wall surface temperature reached about 1,500°F where the flames were directly impinging, and on average 750°F over the length of three to four rail cars.”
7/18/1878 a Buffalo, New York firefighter died “during a fire in a hotel, which was occupied even though it had been condemned. The firefighter was ordered to enter the building to assist in wetting down the ruins. As the company was working, they lost water in their line and he went out to see what had happened. Without warning, a wall collapsed, pitching him and the floor he was on, into the basement. He was killed instantly.”
7/18/1899 a fire destroyed the Grace hotel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. “About twenty-five firefighters were injured, of whom five may die. Most of the injured were taken to the emergency hospital. The property loss will not reach more than $20,000. At the time when the fire seemed to be under control and while several of the firefighters were in the structure to subdue what little of flames were left and ten others were on the roof, the structure tumbled with a loud sound, and nothing but a mass of debris was left. The firefighters on the roof and those on the ladders and within went down with the ruins. The work of rescue was immediately begun and as quickly as the firefighters could get out, ambulances and other conveyances were hurried to the emergency hospital, where the injuries of the unfortunates received all the necessary medical attention.” “As firefighters were overhauling after a two-alarm fire in the three-story brick Grace Hotel on Reed Street, they felt themselves sinking into the building. Suddenly, the entire building collapsed, carrying 41 men from 16 different fire companies, down with it. All of the men were injured, 12 seriously. One firefighter was taking a hose down a ladder when the collapse came. He was instantly crushed to death. It was later discovered that the building had been poorly rebuilt after a previous fire. One of the walls had been bulging and weakened and was only pulled back into line with rods instead of being replaced.”
7/18/1922 a Manhattan, NY (FDNY) firefighter was killed at Box # 5-7-2-539, 10-14 Jane Street. “This eight-alarm fire became known as “The Great Jane Street Warehouse Fire.” Ladder 5, the first company to arrive, found a few wooden cases burning at the elevator entrance to a large, six-story brick garage, which had been converted into a warehouse and occupied by a transit company. Assuming a small rubbish fire, a water line was turned on the burning crates. However, the crates contained magnesium powder, and when the water hit the cases, a sudden and extremely violent explosion occurred. More explosions occurred, hurling firefighters across the street and through windows of the burning warehouse. Burning timbers and debris were hurled high into the air with each explosion. A Borough Call was needed to control the blaze, which burned for five days. Several buildings were damaged or destroyed as the walls of the burning building collapsed. In all, 220 firefighters were overcome or injured at this fire. The firefighter was killed instantly when he was hit head-on with debris that was hurled from the building in one of the more violent explosions. A total of 63 streams were used to fight the flames.”
7/18/1988 around 8:20 p.m. a fire started in an office on the 34th story of the Union Bank Building in Los Angeles, CA that was confined to the northern end of the building and extinguished by LAFD using the standpipe and hoselines.
7/18/1960 in Merrill, WI an explosion at the J.C. Penney Company killed eight people and injured thirteen. “The explosion pushed out the walls of the store, caved in the roof, and plunged the store’s first floor into the basement. A searing fire broke out about five or ten minutes later. The explosion blew debris in front of the Lincoln County Courthouse across the street and left pieces of clothing hanging from telephone lines.”
7/18/1938 an oil refinery explosion killed three and injured 75 at the Sinclair Oil Company in Wellsville, NY.
7/18/1929 a factory explosion killed two and injured nine at the Aluminum Company of America in Logan’s Ferry, PA.
7/18/1911 the Alice, TX business section was heavily damaged by fire.
7/18/1897 in Akron, OH the Academy of Music was destroyed by fire.
7/18/1890 the New York, NY Western Union Telegraph Building fire started in the switchboard and extend to the woodwork that spread fire “from the fifth to the upper stories of the building, including the operating room, Associated Press offices, the executive offices of the Western Union, and the upper floors devoted toa restaurant and living purposes.”
7/18/1870 a boiler explosion on the Steamer Right Way killed nine near Thibodaux, LA.
7/18/0064 the city of Rome burned, the fire started at night, among the shops clustered around the Circus Maximus where many Romans lived in wood houses without masonry walls. The fire spread quickly. “The fire was almost contained after five days before regaining strength. Suetonius claims the fire burned for six days and seven nights in total. The fire destroyed three of fourteen Roman districts and severely damaged seven while leaving only four remaining undamaged. Also destroyed were Nero’s palace, the Temple of Jupiter Stator, and the hearth in the Temple of Vesta.”
7/18/1947 an ionization type smoke detector was patented by E. Meili & W. Jaeger in Berne, Switzerland.