On 8/17/1975 the Gulf Refinery fire in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania killed ten and injured thirteen firefighters. The fire went to eleven alarms. When it was believed to be under control the naphtha tank burst into flames, shooting an enormous fireball into the sky that could be seen for 20 miles, covering an area of about a half-mile square, vapors from a 75,000-gallon tank, filled with crude oil and naphtha fuel had ignited. “The fire started Sunday at dawn (5:57 a.m.) when an 80,000-barrel storage tank ignited while being filled with oil from a tanker.” “A seagoing tanker was off-loading crude oil at the Gulf Oil Refinery when accumulated hydrocarbon vapors ignited suddenly, causing explosions, starting a fire that threatened 600 storage tanks at the refinery’s tank farm. Eight firefighters died in the fire or as a result of injuries sustained during the incident. The original fire was caused by overfilling of a storage tank. No crude oil escaped from the tank, but hydrocarbon vapors were trapped above the surface of the oil in the tank. As the quantity of oil increased, the vapors were forced out of the tank’s vents and into the area of a boiler house, where the initial flash occurred. A second fire and subsequent explosions occurred when the hot muffler of a foam engine came in contact with the hydrocarbon vapors. By evening, the fire had reached 11 alarms. The fire was placed under control at 5:38 a.m. on Monday, August 18. Six Philadelphia firefighters along with four Gulf firefighters were killed and nine others were injured. In the refinery at the time of the fire were crude oils, jet fuel, and naphtha, of course, all 3 were fueling the fire.”
On 8/17/1940 five Chicago, Illinois firefighters died after “fire erupted at the Van Schaack Brothers Chemical factory at 3420 W. Henderson in Chicago. The fire started when a light bulb burst and ignited fumes from a manufacturing chemical named benzol, but the Chicago Fire Department responded and successfully extinguished the small blaze. Aware of the danger of additional chemical explosions, fire officers ordered firefighters out of the building, keeping two hose lines ready in case of any further explosions. Before all the firefighters could be evacuated, however, a larger explosion rocked the factory. Firefighters and officers from Engine 43, Engine 14, Engine 106, Engine 114, and Truck 13, were removing their equipment from a narrow hallway in the factory when the explosion sent flames bursting through the windows around them. Despite the potential for further explosions, the Fire Commissioner led a team to rescue the victims. There were no more explosions, but four firefighters had been killed in the blast. Nine other firefighters, including two chiefs, were injured and a firefighter died from his burns two days later.”
On 8/17/1867 a Detroit, Michigan firefighter “died from injuries he sustained after having fallen from a ladder.”
On 8/17/1913 a Grand Island, Nebraska firefighter “died after being electrocuted while operating a hose line at the Palmer House Stable fire. An overhead power line dropped shortly after the hose lines were laid, striking and killing him.
On 8/17/1917 an Austin, Texas firefighter “was caught under a falling wall and staircase at the Kriesle Building fire on Congress Avenue at 4th Street. He died of his injuries on August 17, 1917.”
On 8/17/1920 a Manhattan, New York (FDNY) firefighter died in a fire that started in the basement of the Grand Five & Ten Cent store. “A four-alarm fire swept the basement and third floor of a four and five-story brick Grand Five & Ten Cent store, shortly after 6:00 p.m. when the store closed. A total of 25 firefighters were overcome by smoke. One firefighter died from smoke inhalation. Several firefighters who were overcome by smoke had to be rescued.”
On 8/17/1927 a Louisville, Kentucky firefighter died “at a fire in the soft drink stand of John Smith, at 02:52 a.m. He was overcome by smoke. Upon arrival at the City Hospital, he was found to be dead.”
On 8/17/1931 a Cambridge, Massachusetts firefighter “died while attempting to rescue two men who had been overcome in a grease-pit manhole by benzol gas fumes. The firefighter and both civilian victims died in the incident. The firefighter had been wearing an “all-service” type canister filter mask. (The all-service mask filtered contaminants in the atmosphere but did not supply air or oxygen.)”
On 8/17/1963 an Indianapolis, Indiana firefighter died “after donning his self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) and he and a firefighter from his crew entered a factory on West 18th Street, to search for the seat of a very smoky two-alarm fire. After locating the fire, both men were returning outside when they became separated in the dense smoke. After the firefighter did not exit the building with the other firefighter, a search was started, and he was found unconscious. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) was started immediately, and he was rushed to the hospital, where he died an hour later of smoke asphyxiation.” “It was not until 1960 that the medical community started to recognize and promote artificial ventilation in the form of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation combined with chest compressions.”
On 8/17/1993 a San Francisco, California firefighter “died from his injuries after sustaining burns while operating at the Eichler Towers fire.”
On 8/17/1930 a house fire in Portales, New Mexico killed four. “It is believed the mother, in filling an oil stove from a five-gallon can of kerosene, accidentally allowed it to become ignited and then ran stumbling and flaming into the east room. The door was found closed, shutting off escape.”
On 8/17/1880 the Eureka, Nevada conflagration started when a “fire broke out on the east side of Main Street, south of Odd Fellows building. It spread rapidly and traveled over substantially the same ground as the great fire of a year ago.”
On 8/17/1880 in Saint Louis, Missouri a flour mill was destroyed by fire.
On 8/17/1878 the village of Tremont, Pennsylvania conflagration began.
On 8/17/1915 near Lansford, Pennsylvania a mine accident killed one at the Colliery of the Lehigh Coal Company.