Nov 12, 2008


Photos: State web site
On Dec. 28, 1930, fire destroyed the State Capitol at Bismarck, North Dakota, days before the legislature was to meet. The fire may have started in rags used to varnish desks in advance of the session, according to a newspaper account.


On Aug. 30, 1930, a fire sank the gambing ship Monfalcone off Long Beach, California. The vessel carried a ``a vault containing $50,000 in silver, currency and checks'' to the bottom, the Associated Press said. The Monfalcone's "300 fashionably dressed visitors" were evacuated as the ship's orchestra "played lively music,'' the AP said. Divers later searched for the sunken loot.



On Dec. 20, 1970, an arson fire raced through Pioneer International Hotel in Tuscon, Arizona, claiming 29 lives - including the hotel owner and his wife in their penthouse apartment. Built 1929, the hotel had open stairways. The Associated Press reported hotel guests ``smelled a volatile substance in the corridors.'' Thirty-three firefighters were injured, according to the Tuscon Citizen.

U.S. TREASURY - 1922


On Feb. 8, 1922, fire struck the U.S. Treasury in Washington, D.C. According to a dispatch in a Connecticut newspaper, The Bridgeport Telegram: ``Blazing scaffolding and repair materials, accompanied by the explosion of a barrel of kerosene, on the roof of the Treasury building threatened the structure ... The millions of dollars of the nation's treasure stored in the building was guarded by a cordon of United States marines and secret service men."


The firehouse speaker box rasped: "Engine 85, Fire. Thirty eight O eight Iowa. Engine 85, Fire. Thirty eight O eight Iowa." The alarm was desperate, the tragedy incredible.

On Dec. 1, 1958, a fire at Our Lady of the Angels school in Chicago killed 92 students and three nuns - and led to national safety standards. ``While legally in compliance with the fire safety laws of the time, the school was woefully unprepared for any kind of fire. There was only one fire escape, no sprinklers, no automatic fire alarm, no smoke or heat detectors, no alarm connected to the fire department, no fire-resistant stairwells and no fire-safe doors ... The floors had been coated and re-coated many times with flammable petroleum based waxes,'' according to the web site


On May 25, 1950, a ``Green Hornet'' street car collided with a gasoline truck in Chicago, killing 33 people. About 30 others escaped through the center doors.

Nov 11, 2008


On May 15, 1929, fumes from burning nitro-cellulose x-ray film killed 123 people at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. Among the bodies scattered about was Dr. John Phillips, a founder of the clinic. According to the Associated Press, firemen ``reached the roof and chopped a hole leading to a stairway, then dropped a ladder to the fourth floor landing. Below they found sixteen bodies, one a doctor and another a nurse.''


Photo: 209 Capitol Street Development

On March 4, 1949, seven firefighters died in a fire and collapse at the F.W. Woolworth & Co. store in downtown Charleston, West Virginia. A dozen or more were injured. Firefighters Richard Gilmer and J.P. ``Jigs'' Little were manning a cellar pipe when the first floor fell into the basement. Gilmer survived. ``I didn't hear or see no more of Jigs at all,'' Gilmer recalled at a memorial service fifty years later.

Firefighters lost:

  • George Coates
  • J.P. ``Jigs'' Little
  • Emory Pauley
  • Frank Miller
  • Fredie Summers
  • Richard McCormick
  • Frank Sharp