On 8/2/1978 six firefighters were killed at the Waldbaum’s Supermarket fire in Brooklyn, New York when the central portion of the roof collapsed. “Thirty-five FDNY firefighters were operating on the roof of the four-alarm fire that started in the hallway near the compressor room during renovations, in less than one hour the roof failed, dropping twelve firefighters into the flames, and thirty-four responders were injured. Just before the collapse, Louise O’Conner, Wife of FF William O’Conner was at the scene of the fire with her three small children. While FF O’Conner was operating on the roof, he waved to his family, and then they waved back, then shortly thereafter the roof collapsed, taking her husband, and the father of her children’s life. “The fire started at 8:40 a.m. in Waldbaum’s supermarket located at 2892 Avenue Y and Ocean Avenue in the Sheepshead Bay section of Brooklyn. Nearly 23 electricians, plumbers, and contractors were renovating the building when the fire was discovered in the mezzanine area. Box 3300 was transmitted at 08:39 a.m. and the All Hands transmitted at 08:49 and subsequently the 2nd alarm at 09:02. Shortly after 09:20, with thirty-five firefighters operating on the bowstring truss roof, a crackling sound was heard and the center portion of the roof fell into the smoke and flames. Some of the firefighters were seen running toward the edge of the roof; some made it, and others nearby fell into the gaping hole. The third alarm was transmitted at 9:18. The 3rd-alarm subsequently escalated to a fifth alarm assignment during the rescue and recovery operations. Laborers and firefighters managed to pull out some who were near walls, some crawled out. Several holes were made into the wall to pull out injured survivors and victims. The approximately 120-foot X 120-foot primary building was originally built in 1952 as a supermarket and at the time of the fire was undergoing extensive renovations and was open and operating. Constructed with exterior masonry bearing walls with timber roof trusses with a 100-foot clear span, supported on pilaster columns embedded in the exterior walls, it was classical Type III construction. The truss system supported an ornamental tin ceiling and 18 inches below that concealed space a conventional suspended acoustic ceiling tile panel system. Reports indicated the tin ceiling was attached directly to the bottom chord of the truss system. A two-story mezzanine and machine room were located at the north wall of the original building. Access through the truss loft area was through man-doors at the plane of each truss. The timber bowstring arch roof consisted of seven (7) truss units constructed of 4-5 bundled 3-inch x 12-inch attached assemblies. Two factors contributed to the collapse of the bowstring arch-truss system: the double roof (rain roof) alterations with concealed spaces, and the extent and severity of the fire within the concealed spaces affecting the assembly’s structural stability. The failure of operating companies and command personnel to recognize the signs of an unchecked concealed fire that was propagating at a rapid pace impinging upon critical structural assembly points was a significant contributing factor in the incident outcome.” … Chief Vincent Dunn points out, “the final report of the fire department’s investigation into the supermarket roof collapse stated that the firefighters had died partly because “the extent, the severity, and to some extent, the location of the fire had not been clearly defined before the collapse.” One of the most important size-up duties of first-in chiefs and company officers is locating the fire and determining its severity. This information lays the foundation for the entire operation…First, it determines the number of firefighters and the amount of equipment needed to control the blaze. Second, until the location and extent of the fire are known, firefighters cannot determine the overall life hazard, the most effective point of fire attack, and the most efficient method of venting heat and smoke…Sometimes, however, the location and severity of a fire cannot be assessed by the chiefs and company officers first on the scene. This inability is often caused by alterations or unusual construction of the fire building. In a fire that killed 12 FDNY firefighters in 1966, the exact location of the fire was not discovered because of alterations. Similarly, the severity and extent of the Brooklyn supermarket fire were not “clearly defined” because of three factors: an unusual alteration called a “rain roof,” the fire-retarding compartmentation of the trusses, and the large heat collection space created by the bowstring design of the structure.”
On 8/2/1973 the Summerland Leisure Centre fire killed fifty in the Isle of Man, England, United Kingdom. “Summerland was a high-tech leisure center that was built in Douglas, on the Isle of Man, and opened in 1971. The venue was designed to hold 10,000 people on five floors and included swimming pools, amusement arcades, an underground disco, and a children’s theatre along with restaurants and bars. The fire was started at around 7:30 p.m. by three boys, two aged 12 and another 14, who were smoking by a disused kiosk next to the mini golf course. The center was built using innovative construction methods and plastic materials, including a transparent acrylic glass sheeting called “Oroglas,” which became known as “horror-glass”. When it became molten, the burning panels dripped onto those trying to escape. It was initially thought the fire wasn’t serious and as people began to leave, an organist and compere told them it was only a chip-pan fire. The staff took 25 minutes before contacting the fire brigade. Some people returned to their seats but later as the fire burst into the building the organist screamed: “My God, it’s burning! Get out.” At Summerland, many children were on the upper floors which meant parents ran upstairs rather than heading towards the exit. Many were trampled in the rush and emergency doors had been locked. A survivor told the BBC: “It was a horrific, horror inferno. “There was an explosion and then a huge wall of flames from the floor to the ceiling like a waterfall of fire coming towards us at great speed.” … Fifty people, nine of them children, died in the disaster, and 80 were injured. About 3,000 holidaymakers were inside the leisure complex at the time of the fire. Five members of a single family from Essex were killed, including 10-year-old twin girls, and 17 children lost one or both parents in the disaster. The victims came from across the UK and included men, women, and children – 11 of the dead were under 20 years of age. A public inquiry opened later that year and a report was published in May 1974 that returned a verdict of death by misadventure. There were “no villains” but a combination of “human errors, a reliance on the old-boy network, and poor communications” led to the disaster, the report found. The inquiry said Oroglas was not to blame for the scale of the disaster and the material only ignited until the building was already ablaze… New building regulations introduced after the disaster included ensuring emergency exits are never locked. They also stipulated that children in entertainment venues should always be accommodated on or near ground level. No one has ever been prosecuted for the fire itself but on September 17, 1973, three Liverpool boys appeared before Douglas Juvenile Court. They admitted willfully and unlawfully damaging the lock of a plastic kiosk next to Summerland. They were each fined £3 and ordered to pay 33p compensation and 15p costs.”
On 8/2/1890 a Lynn, Massachusetts firefighter “died after suffering the effects of smoke inhalation while operating at a fire at the G.F. Barto & Company building on Munroe Street.”
On 8/2/1894 two Philadelphia, Pennsylvania firefighters died “while operating at an extremely smoky three-alarm blaze that involved two wool mills and a carpet cleaning plant, they were killed when they were caught under a collapsing wall.”
On 8/2/1894 a Detroit, Michigan firefighter “died from the injuries he sustained after being caught in a building collapse.”
On 8/2/1907 a Brooklyn, New York (FDNY) “died as a result of the severe skull fracture he sustained July 28, 1907, when he was struck by a falling beam while operating at a fire.”
On 8/2/1914 a Seattle, Washington firefighter “died as a result of severe burns sustained on July 30, 1914, when he was caught in the flashover of the Grand Truck Dock Company fire. A fireboat crew rescued him after he and another firefighter were forced to jump into the river.”
On 8/2/1942 a Baltimore, Maryland firefighter “died as a result of critical burns he sustained in an explosion on July 28, 1942.”
On 8/2/2000 a four-alarm fire destroyed an 85,000 square-foot multi-tenanted warehouse in Phoenix, Arizona that started around 4:58 p.m. Two tenants, a home and garden supply company, and a pharmaceuticals distributor occupied the warehouse at 38th Place and Broadway. Fire crews reported that a portion of the west tilt-panel concrete wall was leaning outward and a collapse hazard existed at 5:11 p.m. By 5:17 p.m. most of the south wall had collapsed.
On 8/2/1960 a Brownfield, Texas grain elevator explosion killed three and left one missing.
On 8/2/1933 the old wooden boathouse on the banks of the Cocheco River in New Hampshire was destroyed by fire at 3:00 a.m.
On 8/2/1900 a Montana Coal & Coke mine explosion killed one near Aldridge, Montana.
On 8/2/1910 the ferry boat Secaucus collided with the coal pier and burned, resulting in panic in New York, New York.