On 9/27/1898 a San Jose, California firefighter was killed, and several other firefighters were injured when a fire roared through the Hotel Vendome, a large elegant four-story hotel located near downtown San Jose, California. The firefighter was operating a hose line on the second floor of the hotel with other members of his fire company when the rear wall of the large building buckled causing the upper floors to crash into the first floor. The firefighter and numerous other firefighters were trapped in the rubble. Several firefighters were able to dig themselves out of the debris or were rescued by other firefighters. The firefighter’s body was recovered from the collapsed remains of the building the next day. The Hotel Vendome was located on North First Street a few blocks north of downtown San Jose. The rambling four-story wood frame Victorian-style structure was built on the site of a former estate that featured lavish landscaping much of which was retained for the hotel site. In 1887, the Hotel Vendome Company engaged the local architectural firm of Jacob Lenzen & Son to design a grand resort hotel in the style of the new Arcadia Hotel in Santa Monica. Construction was completed by early 1889 at a total cost of $150,000. When it opened on February 7, 1889, the Hotel Vendome had 150 rooms with en suite bathrooms, steam heat, Otis elevators, a ballroom, a barbershop, banquet rooms, and kitchens. Transient rates were $2.50 to $4.00 per day, with special rates for families and permanent boarders. During its forty years of existence, the Hotel Vendome had several fires. The first, on September 7, 1889, caused only minor damage. The worst fire was on the night of September 26, 1898. Around 10:30 pm, upon investigating an odor of smoke on the second floor of the Hotel Vendome, the night watchman and a bellboy discovered that a fire had started in a fuse box of the newly installed electric light system and was rapidly spreading throughout the building via the cable chases. The desk clerk turned in the alarm from the manual fire alarm box but mistakenly tapped out a “still alarm,” rather than requesting a full assignment. This led to a valuable loss of time in controlling the fire, as the initial response of the fire apparatus proved inadequate to handle the rapidly spreading blaze. All guests gathered their belongings and left uninjured, most being taken to the St. James Hotel.
On 9/27/1915 a gasoline explosion in Ardmore, Oklahoma left forty-three people dead and at least 200 injured, and the town was destroyed. One source suggests that a workman repairing a gasoline tank car in the Santa Fe railyard hammer caused a spark resulting in an explosion, followed by a second detonation when stored dynamite exploded. “A railroad car carrying casinghead gasoline began leaking. (Casinghead gasoline, or natural gasoline, is collected from natural gas at the casinghead of an oil or gas well.) As pressure rose in the tank, and the pop-off valve was activated, gas began to pour out and into the low-lying areas of downtown Ardmore. An Ardmore Refining Company representative removed the dome from the top of the car, filling the air with gas and vapors. An explosion, triggered by an unidentified source, destroyed most of downtown Ardmore. After the Ardmore disaster, new rules were put into effect regulating the statewide shipment of casinghead gasoline. Led by the Natural Gasoline Manufacturers Association, oil companies changed and improved the extraction and transportation methods for natural gasoline.” Casinghead gasoline is an obsolete name for natural gasoline, the liquid hydrocarbons recovered from wet natural gas. “Natural gas condensate, also called natural gas liquids, is a low-density mixture of hydrocarbon liquids that are present as gaseous components in the raw natural gas produced from many natural gas fields. Some gas species within the raw natural gas will condense to a liquid state if the temperature is reduced to below the hydrocarbon dew point temperature at a set pressure.”
On 9/27/1894 a Chicago, Illinois firefighter “of Engine 10 died in the line of duty while fighting a restaurant fire at 254 S. State Street. He was asphyxiated after he was overcome by smoke in the restaurant basement. Engine 10 was the first fire company to arrive on the scene, and firefighters immediately entered the building with a hose line. They advanced ten feet into the basement before the dense smoke forced them to retreat. As they were exiting, he was overcome by smoke and collapsed, but he was quickly rescued by his colleagues. A few minutes later, firefighters again attempted to attack the fire with a hose line, but five more firefighters were overcome by smoke and had to be carried out of the basement. A 4-11 alarm was eventually raised, and the fire department successfully contained and extinguished the fire. The firefighter was taken to a nearby drug store, where a doctor attempted to resuscitate him for more than two hours, but efforts to revive him were unsuccessful.”
On 9/27/1906 a Milwaukee, Wisconsin firefighter “was killed in a fall from the deck to the hold of the boat.”
On 9/27/1911 a Wichita, Kansas firefighter “lost his life when he was crushed by a collapsing wall while trying to move a piece of fire apparatus out of the way at the F.G. Smyth and Son Transfer and Storage building located at 114-116 N Santa Fe.”
On 9/27/1954 an Omaha, Nebraska firefighter “died from severe burns while driving Ladder 8 away from the scene of a multiple alarm fire at the 1St Methodist Church at 1913 Davenport Street, to protect the rig.”
On 9/27/1964 a Tampa, Florida firefighter “died from burns he suffered while operating at a fire.”
On 9/27/1974 a Weymouth, Massachusetts firefighter “died as a result of critical burns sustained August 11, 1974, when he was caught in a flashover while searching for children reportedly trapped in a barn fire.”
On 9/27/1980 a Los Angeles, California firefighter “died after suffering burns, after he had fallen through the roof of the Naval and Marine Corps Reserve Center, at 1700 Stadium Way. The fire was fought for two and half hours, and 40 companies. The firefighter was assigned to Task Force 1 and was assisting with ventilation on the two-story, tile-roofed, concrete building. Without warning, a fire-weakened portion of the roof collapsed beneath him.”
On 9/27/2016 a Bronx, New York (FDNY) firefighter was killed, and twelve other firefighters were injured when a drug lab inside a house exploded at 300 W. 234th Street near the corner of Tibbett Avenue in Kingsbridge. Someone in the neighborhood reported what was believed to be a gas leak around 6:20 a.m. Firefighters had first responded to a report of a gas smell at the location and found the drug lab, notifying police, but the house exploded before the situation could be fully assessed and mitigated. The explosion occurred around 7:30 a.m. as police officers and firefighters were walking in and out of the home. The firefighter was transported to a local hospital where he later died.
On 9/27/1886 thirty business buildings in the business part of the town of DeLand, Volusia County, Florida were destroyed by fire.
On 9/27/1943 a bomber crash killed six during a routine training flight in Avon Park, FL.
On 9/27/1906 a hurricane killed 150 in Mobile, AL.
On 9/26/1854 in heavy fog two ships collided, killing 322 off the coast of Newfoundland –