8/1/1932 an explosion at the Ritz Towers in New York City killed eight firefighters, after a small fire in the sub-cellar extended to the paint shop resulting in an explosion. The 41-story Ritz Tower is located at 113 East 57th Street and Park Avenue. The building was a combination hotel and apartment building with stores on the 1st floor, constructed in 1925. When built it was the tallest residential building in New York City with 400 rooms, owned by a realty company controlled by William Randolph Hearst… When firefighters arrived, there was nothing showing on the outside of the building. Two 2-½” handlines were stretched to the service entrance on East 57th Street and advanced to the sub-cellar. “Upon arriving at the sub-cellar level, the smoke was thick and oily black. The passageways in the sub-cellar were small. The door to the paint vault could not be located. Firefighters were sent to the area above the sub-cellar in the cellar looking for an area where they could ventilate from the floor above; it was discovered that the floor-ceiling assembly was concrete 12 inches thick. Ladder 16 proceeded to the 57th Street side of the building to open the sidewalk gate which led to the “ash hoist shaft” to ventilate the sub-cellar area. A 35-foot portable ladder was placed into the shaft to provide access to the sub-cellar. There were approximately 30 fire officers and firefighters in the sub-cellar, cellar, service stairway, and the ash hoist shaft around 10:56 a.m. As Ladder 16 forced entry into the sub-cellar from the ash hoist shaft, there was an explosion. Two firefighters from Ladder 16 and Engine 65 in the ash hoist shaft, were killed instantly. A sheet of flame came at the firefighters in the sub-cellar. The brick partitions that separated rooms, collapsed sending shrapnel-like debris at the firefighters. The ash hoist was twisted and bent. An ammonia refrigeration system with two 15-ton machines ruptured. Firefighters in the sub-cellar were badly injured. A few men who were not injured started to pull the injured out when three minutes later a second explosion ripped through the paint shop again. The second explosion was much bigger than the first. It blew wall partitions out and went up the dumbwaiter to the first-floor stores sending debris over 50 feet. This explosion caused more debris, timbers, and masonry to come down upon those who were already incapacitated from the first explosion. Holes were blown in the masonry construction and damaged the stairway. The storage area was now on fire. The jewelry store had its plate glass windows blown out and over $100,000 worth of jewels were scattered on the street. The second explosion was heard a mile away from the building. As firefighters exited the service stairway to the street, their faces were bloodied, burned, and smoke-stained. Every firefighter that responded to the initial alarm was injured. Nineteen of those injured were able to continue working after being treated… There were no automatic fire alarms or automatic sprinkler systems at the Ritz Tower in 1932. If they were present, there would not have been a delayed alarm to FDNY and the sprinkler system would have knocked down the incipient fire. Current fire prevention regulations do not allow storage of flammable liquids below grade. Combustible liquids are allowed if the entire area is protected by a sprinkler system.”
8/1/1894 a Chicago, IL firefighter died “while fighting a fire in the city’s lumber district. The fire started around 7:00 p.m., possibly caused by a lightning strike, and heavy winds quickly spread flames throughout the lumberyards, which were exceptionally dry due to the lack of rain during the previous six weeks. The fire area stretched for several blocks, from Ashland Avenue in the east to Robey Street in the west, the fire was bordered by Blue Island Avenue to the north and the Chicago River to the south. More than sixty fire apparatus, along with two fireboats, responded to the fire and were successful in protecting residential neighborhoods that were exposed to the flames. Nevertheless, the fire resulted in more than 2 million dollars in commercial property loss. A firefighter, assigned to the fireboat Geyser, was killed as the boat maneuvered through a slip alongside a dock in the Chicago River at 2400 Lincoln. When the boat shifted suddenly to avoid a large pile of burning lumber that collapsed. He and two other firefighters were caught in a hose line and swept from the deck of the boat into a bed of hot coals.”
8/1/1910 a Kansas City, KS firefighter “died while operating at a fire.”
8/1/1932 a Philadelphia, PA firefighter “died from inhalation of fumes while operating at a fire in the hold of a ship.”
8/1/1934 a Brooklyn, NY (FDNY) firefighter “died as a result of severe smoke inhalation sustained while operating at a fire on July 27th at Box # 77-2570, Avenue ‘H’ and East 16th Street.
8/1/1979 a Sanford, Florida firefighter died and a second was severely injured while “manning a line in front of a burning one-story pet supply store. The roof collapsed, pushing out the front wall and trapping the two men under tons of rubble. After being dug out from under the debris, both men were taken to the hospital, where one died a short while later. The other firefighter suffered multiple fractures and numerous lacerations.”
8/1/2004 a Carthage, Tennessee firefighter died after he and the members of the fire department responded to a report of a structure fire in a church. “A heat gun used to remove old paint from a window had ignited materials inside of the wall. Firefighters arrived and saw flames visible from the exterior of the structure. The front entry to the church was forced open, and firefighters found flame showing from an interior wall. In the meantime, the fire had extended into the attic of the church. The attic had an accumulation of approximately 2 inches of coal dust from the time when the church was heated with a coal furnace. The firefighter was standing outside the building observing operations where he saw a rapidly developing fire and moved toward the building. As he moved toward the building, the front façade of the building fell outward and collapsed on top of him and 2 other firefighters.”
8/1/2019 four people were injured, including three firefighters, in a house explosion in Washington County, PA. Fire crews responded about 3:50 p.m. to a scene in the 100 block of Park Lane in North Franklin. The homeowner returned home to the smell of gas and immediately called the fire department. Two firefighters arrived and shut off the gas. About a minute later, the two firefighters and the homeowner were standing outside the house when it exploded. All three of them were taken to a hospital; their conditions were unknown. A third firefighter who suffered from heat exhaustion was also taken to a hospital.
8/1/1981 near Moab, UT a propane gas feeder line hit by lightning exploded and burned at the Doxol Storage Plant, about a mile north of the city in southeastern Utah that injured ten and caused the evacuation of about 3,000.
8/1/1959 a forest fire killed forty-eight northeast of Massif des Aures, Algeria.
8/1/1908 the lumber company in Marinette, WI was destroyed by fire.
8/1/1908 a large forest fire threatened Fernie, Michel, and other towns in BC.
8/1/1907 in Milwaukee, WI the St. John’s Institute for Deaf-Mutes at St. Francis was partially destroyed by a fire that started on the roof of the building around 3:45 p.m.
8/1/1880 forty-four prize horses died at the White Sulphur Springs in a stable fire near Greenbrier, WV.
8/1/1866 a fire destroyed 13,000 Barrels of Oil in Pithole, PA at the United States Petroleum Company’s lease, Holmden Farm, and rapidly spread in all directions after a “spark from the engine communicated with the escaping gas, and in a moment the flames shot to the top of the derrick and fired the tank.”
8/1/1865 near Cape Lincoln, OR the Steamer Brother Jonathan sank and killed nearly 150 people.
8/1/1971 four Lereley, Baltimore County, Maryland firefighters died performing a water rescue. “A line of violent thunderstorms moved across the county, dumping torrential downpours of rain onto the area. Streams became flooded, trees were uprooted, and cars were swept off highways. One such incident occurred at Bean Creek. A car with four occupants had become trapped in rapidly rising waters and firefighters were called to rescue them. Five firefighters entered the water, which was at hood level, and attached a tow cable from a wrecker to the car. The cable slipped off and was reattached to pull the car out of the water. Suddenly, the car raised out of the water and floated about 30 feet downstream with the firefighters and the tow truck operator clinging to it. The driver of the car then yelled for everyone to jump out of the car. Both doors were opened, and the occupants were washed out of the vehicle by the now raging waters. Before anyone could react, a wave of water took the car under, dragging four of the firefighters, three of the car’s occupants, and the tow truck operator down with it. The fifth firefighter managed to grab onto a utility pole and stayed there for over three hours until he could be rescued. A female occupant of the car also survived.”
1774 Joseph Priestley discovered oxygen.