8/5/1949 thirteen smokejumpers of the U.S. Forest Service died in a remote canyon along the Missouri River just north of Helena, Montana’s state capitol. It was a place named by Lewis and Clark as the Gates of the Mountain. “On August 4, lightning struck high on the southern flank of Mann Gulch. Located 20 miles north of Helena, – an area described by Meriwether Lewis as the ‘Gates of the Mountains’ – Mann is a funnel with a brim of rim-rock and a mouth that drains westward into the Missouri River. The fire started small, burning the understory of cured grasses and, by the time it was spotted just after noon on August 5th, only 50 acres had been affected. A team of 15 smokejumpers parachuted into the area to fight the fire, rendezvousing with a former smokejumper who was employed as a fireguard at the nearby campground. As the team approached the fire to begin fighting it, unexpected high winds caused the fire to suddenly expand, cutting off the men’s route and forcing them back uphill. During the next few minutes, a “blow-up” of the fire covered 3,000 acres in ten minutes, claiming the lives of thirteen firefighters, including twelve of the smokejumpers. Only three smokejumpers survived. The fire would continue for five more days before being controlled.”
8/5/1897 six Chicago, IL firefighters died at the NW Grain Elevator fire and explosion. “They were killed while operating at a spectacular five-alarm fire involving a six-story brick grain elevator, when a major explosion occurred, blowing the walls out on all four sides of the structure.”
8/5/1920 four Cincinnati, Ohio firefighters died from an explosion and fire at the Refiners Oil Company at South and Depot Streets in the West End. “They had responded to the report of a fire in the yard of the fuel company. The members of the fire company rushed into the yard with fire extinguishers to try to stop a fire that was burning next to three large gasoline tanks. As they began to work on the fire, the nearest tank exploded, showering the firefighters with burning gasoline. Two firefighters died where they stood, burned beyond recognition. A third firefighter was caught in the flood of burning fuel, struggled to make it out of the yard to the sidewalk where he died. The fourth firefighter began to work on the fire, the nearest tank exploded, showering him with burning gasoline. He managed to stumble, on fire from head to toe, from the yard to the sidewalk, where he collapsed. He survived the night in General Hospital. Only one member of Ladder 8 survived the fire, he had been sent back to the truck for more extinguishers just before the blast.”
8/5/1947 two firefighters died at the Bryant Canyon Fire in the Angeles National Forest. “They died during suppression of the 3661-acre Bryant Canyon fire. There were entrapped in a draw and overrun.”
8/5/1972 a Toronto, Ontario, Canada firefighter “died after being trapped in the basement at a 2nd-Alarm fire at 1720 Queen Street West near Roncesvalles, in a restaurant fire.”
8/5/1979 a Phoenix, Arizona firefighter died after he “was checking the roof and fell through. He was rescued from inside but died of his injuries. His death was caused by asphyxiation, smoke inhalation.”
8/5/2014 a New Carlisle, IN firefighter “died from injuries sustained when the roof of a burning commercial storage building collapsed on him and another firefighter. According to reports, the other firefighter sustained a broken ankle and minor burns.”
8/5/2016 a fire most likely caused by the candles on a birthday cake killed thirteen people and left at least six others injured at a bar in the French city of Rouen in the basement of the Cuba Libre. The victims were between 18 and 25 years old. The accidental fire quickly extended to flammable polystyrene material on the ceiling after one of the party-goers stumbled while carrying a cake with lit candles down the stairs to the lower floor.
8/5/2013 fifty-five people were hospitalized after a fire in a Norway Tunnel. A semi-trailer truck caught fire in Norway’s second-longest tunnel, requiring the evacuation of 160 people, 55 were hospitalized from smoke inhalation and other injuries.
8/5/2011 two adult women and two children were found dead in a house fire, each had been shot at least once, in the 5300 block of Northwest 5th Street Ocala, FL about 12:53 a.m. in a 2,000-square-foot residential structure.
8/5/1970 a fire at One New York Plaza killed two people and injured thirty-five others. The fire changed standards relating to glass-and-steel skyscraper construction and heat-sensitive elevator call buttons. The “new” 50-story skyscraper had been completed just one year earlier at the tip of Manhattan, housing financial businesses, with Chase Manhattan Bank as the primary tenant. The fire started just before 6:00 p.m. on the 33rd floor in the telephone equipment closet and spread across the 33rd and 34th floors. The elevator stopped on the fire floor with a telephone technician and two security guards on board and the doors mistakenly opened, the raging fire triggered the heat-sensitive elevator call buttons. These call buttons were designed to detect body heat when someone placed their finger on them to call the elevator during normal operation. “The deadly fire advanced fire safety by drawing attention to the danger of heat-sensitive elevator buttons and the inadequate fireproofing insulation that had been applied to steel beams. The new steel-and-glass construction style also held in heat and the building did not have a sprinkler system, causing dangerous and difficult conditions for firefighters trying to bring the fire under control. During the fire at One New York Plaza, the fire burned hot enough to warp and twist the steel beams, with only concrete slabs left holding the floors from collapsing…The spray-on insulation technique would again come under scrutiny 31 years later when the World Trade Center towers, which were built during the same period, also suffered from inadequate spray-on fireproofing that had flaked off the steel or been knocked away by the impact, exposing bare steel to the full heat of the fire.”
8/5/1975 “Indiana Dunes” tests report, leads to home detector standards; home smoke alarms rose from less than 10% in 1975 to 95% in 2000. Fire deaths have been cut nearly in half, the home smoke alarm is credited as the greatest success story in fire safety. “The Indiana Dunes Tests were conducted for the National Bureau of Standards (Center for Fire Research) from 1974 to 1976 to study the placement and sensitivity requirements of smoke detection in dwellings. The detectors were placed at various locations on the walls and ceiling of the first and second floors of one and two-story single-family dwellings. During the tests, measurements were taken of temperatures, carbon monoxide concentrations, and light obscuration at 5 feet above the floor in bedrooms and along escape routes. The tests focused on the amount of time that was available to escape (before the escape routes became untenable) after the detectors activated. A total of 76 tests were conducted under a variety of conditions in three different houses using 47 different smoke detectors and 7 heat detectors.”