“Late one night, when we were all in bed,
Mrs. O’Leary lit a lantern in the shed.
Her cow kicked it over,
Then winked her eye and said,
“There’ll be a hot time in the
old town tonight!”
On October 8th 1871 in Chicago, in a barn on the west side, a cow was made famous. “Daisy” (the milk cow) caught the blame for knocking over a lantern and starting “The Great Chicago Fire.” History has been proven to have holes in the story, so to know whether ole’ daisy was at fault or not is indeterminable. What we do know is, the fire department at the time was exhausted from an approximate four-block fire earlier in the day, add to that errors in judging, delaying in signaling the alarm, resulted in a much-delayed fire department response, poor “Daisy”.
At the end of the 3-day fire, 2000 acres, 17000 homes had been destroyed and 300 people were dead.
At the same time, just a day before, in a place a couple hundred miles north of Chicago named Peshtigo, Wisconsin was another, less-known fire. Not just a fire, but it labeled in many literary information locations as a “Firestorm”.
Peshtigo was a saw mill town. A town very vulnerable to fire due to its heavy timber structural members in most buildings. Once considered on of the largest wood products factories in the United States (sounds like the inside of a match box to me), the town was comfortable, the residents were comfortable, even with a layer of dust on everything, the roads were covered in saw dust too.
On October 7th, 1871 a blaze started in an unknown exact location in a very dense wooded location around a smaller area known as “Sugar Bush”. As the fire grew and eventually spread through “Sugar Bush”, every resident was killed by the blaze. The natural living conditions of a saw mill town in that time, combined with a weather condition at the time that not only presented with high winds but swirling, inconsistent high winds. Flames were reported to have been 1000 feet tall, miles wide and temperatures reaching 2000 degrees with stories of trees literally exploding into flames.
On October 8th 1871 the fire, reported to have been, unexpectedly, spread to the town of Peshtigo without warning. approximately 200 folks died in a single tavern. residents died from drowning as they fled into local rivers, some said to have even boiled to death in water tanks. the burnt result of the blaze made it necessary to have at least one grave of 300+ people due to families not being able to recognize their family members.
Peshtigo firestorm would be labeled as the “Deadliest Fire in U.S. History”.
The result of these 2 fires was more strict building codes, and code enforcement. along with better, more efficient fire alerting systems. Water pumping abilities.
These fires were essential in the growth of the American fire service to adapt and overcome. it posed the forever question of “How can we serve our people better?”
The Hartford circus fire, which occurred on July 6, 1944, in Hartford, Connecticut, was one of the worst fire disasters in the history of the United States. The fire occurred during an afternoon performance of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus that was attended by 6,000 to 8,000 people. 167 people died and more than 700 were injured.
In mid-20th century America, a typical circus traveled from town to town by train, performing under a huge canvas tent commonly called a “big top”. The Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus was no exception: what made it stand out was that it was the largest circus in the country. Its big top could seat 9,000 spectators around its three rings; the tent’s canvas had been coated with 1,800 pounds (820 kg) of paraffin wax dissolved in 6,000 US gallons (23,000 l) of gasoline, a common waterproofing method of the time.
The fire began as a small flame after the lions performed, on the southwest sidewall of the tent, while the Great Wallendas were performing. Circus bandleader Merle Evans was said to have been the first to spot the flames, and immediately directed the band to play “The Stars and Stripes Forever“, the tune that traditionally signaled distress to all circus personnel. Ringmaster Fred Bradna urged the audience not to panic and to leave in an orderly fashion, but the power failed and he could not be heard. Bradna and the ushers unsuccessfully tried to maintain some order as the panicked crowd tried to flee the big top.
The cause of the fire remains unproven. Investigators at the time believed it was caused by a carelessly flicked cigarette; however, others suspected an arsonist. Several years later, while being investigated on other arson charges, Robert Dale Segee (1929–1997), who was an adolescent roustabout at the time, confessed to starting the blaze. He was never tried for the crime and later recanted his confession.
Because of the paraffin wax waterproofing of the tent, the flames spread rapidly. Many people were badly burned by the melting paraffin, which rained down from the roof. The fiery tent collapsed in about eight minutes according to eyewitness survivors, trapping hundreds of spectators beneath it.
Most of the dead were found in piles, some three bodies deep, at the most congested exits. A small number of people were found alive at the bottoms of these piles, protected by the bodies on top of them when the burning big top ultimately fell down. Because of a picture that appeared in several newspapers of sad tramp clown Emmett Kelly holding a water bucket, the event became known as “the day the clowns cried.”
Resourced straight from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hartford_circus_fire
This would be the largest mass-murder and hate crime on the LGBT community in the United States until the recent Orlando shootings.
On June 24, 1973, an arsonist attacked the Upstairs Lounge in New Orleans, Louisiana. The space was full of members of the local Metropolitan Community Church gathered to celebrate the last night of Pride Weekend. When the fire broke out, the bars on the windows kept most people from escaping. As onlookers made jokes, MCC Pastor Rev. Bill Larson burned to death hanging out of a small opening screaming, “Oh, God, no!” When the flames subsided, 32 people were dead. No one was ever charged with the massacre.
In addition to the horribly incinerated Rev. Larson, twenty-eight other individuals lost their lives that night, and three others later died of injuries received in the fire. The death toll was the worst of any fire in New Orleans history up to that time, including the great fire of 1788 that burned the old French Quarter to the ground. It was also the largest mass murder of homosexuals ever in the U.S. and what is more, it is a crime that has never been solved.
But the city of New Orleans did its level best to ignore the whole event. The fire exposed a surprisingly deep fissure of homophobia in a city that has historically prided itself on its egalitarianism and cosmopolitan tolerance. For the first time, New Orleans had to confront the reality of a thriving homosexual community in its midst. Evidently, this was a very hard lesson for it to learn.
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The fire broke out in the so-called ‘Golden Triangle’ in The Liberties area of Dublin when a malt house and bonded warehouse went up in flames. The blaze narrowly missed a convent and a maternity hospital but engulfed the largely impoverished area of Dublin.
In this poor part of nineteenth-century Dublin, it wasn’t uncommon to have farm animals living either inside or outside these tenements. As a result, panic-ridden animals ran through the street and only added to the mayhem of lava-like whiskey running alongside them.
Dubliners ran through the streets with their pots, pans and even boots in an effort to scoop up as much of this flaming uisce beatha (Irish Gaelic for whiskey) as they could. As one paper noted: ‘Two corn-porters, named Healy and M’Nulty, were found in a lane off Cork-street, lying insensible, with their boots off, which they had evidently used to collect the liquor.
The Dublin Fire Brigade arrived, under the leadership of Captain James Robert Ingram, who had been a fire officer in the New York Fire Department, and was renowned for his “unconventional” strategies to control fires. On one occasion he had ordered his men to resist putting out a fire on a blazing ship in Dublin harbor, and asked the Royal Navy to sink it instead. Ingram knew that to pour water on the fire would be disastrous as the whiskey would float on top of it like petrol and spread the fire throughout the city.
Instead, he sent for soldiers and ordered them to pull up paving stones and pour a mixture of sand and gravel on the whiskey. But he soon realized that wouldn’t be enough as the whiskey started to seep through the sand. Horse manure. Heaps of it lay in depots around the city. Ingram ordered that it be brought to the Liberties by the cartload and shoveled back onto the streets, from where it had once come, to form dams. As the burning whiskey met the damp manure it was soaked up and the fire slowly began to subside.
In 2014, a new whiskey was released by Malone’s Whiskey Company in honor of this fire, known as The Flaming Pig, a liqueur whiskey with hand-crafted spices.
13 people lost their lives to the deadly fire, however not a single one to flames or burns. Instead, the cause of death was alcohol poisoning from drinking the hot manure-filtered whiskey from the dirty Dublin streets.
11 die in Florida prison fire
SANFORD , Fla . ( AP )—Eleven persons, most of them inmates trapped behind bars and screaming for help , died Monday when smoke from a smoldering fire swept the Seminole County Jail, officials said . At least 34 others were injured and admitted to area hospitals. It was like somebody was strangling me , said one inmate . I couldn’t breathe and I couldn’t see. I didn’t think we were going to get out. And then I felt someone grab me. I couldn’t believe it . One of the first persons on the scene, Bill Reck, quoted workers in the county courthouse next door as saying that desperate prisoners banged on the walls to call attention to their plight . The smoke was terrible, terrible , said Sanford fire chief George Harriett, who led firemen up to the jail’s second floor/where inmates were trapped in locked cells. If you didn’t have a gas mask you couldn’t survive up there. Capt. J . Q . Galloway, jail shift commander at the time, said without elaboration, There are certain earmarks that point toward arson. He said state fire marshals were investigating. Harriett said the blaze started in a mattress in a hospital cell at the two-story central Florida jail, about 40 miles from Disney World. The heat spread it to a stack of other mattresses , and then it caught some papers and books on fire in an adjoining classroom, he said, The fire was small and contained, Harriett said, but huge billows of suffocating smoke and fumes quickly spread through the facility .
One rescued inmate said: We all laid down and threw mattresses over our faces . We were the lucky; ones . At least one of those reported dead on arrival at area hospitals was a corrections officer. Officials withheld identification of the victims pending notification of relatives. Sheriff s spokesman John Spolski said the dead guard apparently was overcome by smoke on his second trip up the jail s narrow stairway to rescue unconscious prisoners. I don’t see how he did it, said Spolski. He went up one time and dragged some men down and then went up again. I tried to go up the stairs about 20 minutes after the fire started and couldn’t make it past three or four steps because of . the smoke . The fire began at 12 : 12 p.m. EDT, Harriett said, and the first units were on the scene within three minutes. The fire chief said at least two things hampered rescue efforts: —The rear entrance to the jail was blocked by more than 100 unclaimed bicycles being stored for an upcoming auction. —Jailers who tried to unlock cells were overcome by smoke , and gas-masked firemen had difficulty obtaining proper keys for cells. Officials initially said the jail elevator was knocked out in a power failure, disrupting rescue efforts. But they later said all inmates had been evacuated before the elevator failed.
NFPA Abstract of this Fire:
THE JUNE 1975 FIRE AT THE SEMINOLE COUNTY, FLORIDA, JAIL, IN WHICH 10 INMATES AND 1 STAFF MEMBER DIED, IS DESCRIBED BY THE NATIONAL FIRE PROTECTION ASSOCIATION SPECIALIST WHO INVESTIGATED THE FIRE.
THE TWO-STORY JAIL BUILT IN 1961 WAS MADE OF CONCRETE BLOCK; IT LACKED SPRINKLERS, SMOKE OR FIRE DETECTORS, AND ALARM SYSTEMS. APPARENTLY SET BY A PRISONER, THE FIRE BEGAN IN A STORAGE ROOM CONTAINING CHEMICALLY TREATED URETHANE MATTRESSES WHICH WAS LOCATED NEXT TO TWO SEGREGATED CELLS. THE BURNING MATTRESSES CAUSED A RAPID BUILDUP OF INTENSE HEAT AND TOXIC SMOKE. PRISONERS WERE UNABLE TO ESCAPE FROM THEIR LOCKED CELLS. A NEARBY STANDPIPE HOSE, BREATHING APPARATUS UNITS, AND PORTABLE FIRE EXTINGUISHERS WERE NOT USED. RESCUE ATTEMPTS WERE THWARTED BY MISPLACED JAIL KEYS AND BY BLOCKAGE OF AN EMERGENCY EVACUATION ROUTE. FURTHER INVESTIGATION SHOWED THAT SAFETY MEASURES PREVIOUSLY RECOMMENDED BY THE SEMINOLE COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF FIRE PROTECTION HAD NOT BEEN ADOPTED BY THE COUNTY JAIL ADMINISTRATION. THE FIRE DEMONSTRATED THE NEED FOR PROPER DESIGN, CONSTRUCTION, MAINTENANCE, AND OPERATION OF PRISONS IN ORDER TO MINIMIZE THE POSSIBILITY OF TRAGEDY. IN ADDITION, DETECTION, ALARM AND EXTINGUISHING SYSTEMS, AND PLANNING, TRAINING, AND DRILLING FOR FIRE ISOLATION AND INMATE EVACUATION ARE ALL NEEDED.
A fire broke out in the hotel, killing 61 people, many of them children. The fire began in the Silver Grill Cocktail Lounge on the lower floor on the La Salle Street side adjacent to the lobby before ascending stairwells and shafts. The fire started either in the walls or in the ceiling according to the Chicago Fire Department around 12:15 a.m. but they didn’t receive their first notification of the fire until 12:35 a.m. The fire quickly spread through the highly-varnished wood paneling in the lounge and the mezzanine balcony overlooking the lobby. While a significant number died from flames, a greater number of deaths were caused by suffocation from the thick, black smoke. Around 900 guests were able to leave the building but some 150 had to be rescued by the fire services and by heroic members of the public, including two sailors who were reported to have rescued 27 people between them. Two-thirds of hotel fire deaths in 1946 occurred in the La Salle and Winecoff (Atlanta) fires. The hotel fire was so devastating, it resulted in the Chicago city council enacting new hotel building codes and fire-fighting procedures, including the installation of automatic alarm systems and instructions of fire safety inside the hotel rooms.
The hotel was refurbished after the fire and was finally demolished in July 1976, to be occupied by the Two North LaSalle office building. This s kyscraper was completed on the site in 1979.