Chicago, IL Two Storage Building Fire, Jan 1961


Chicago -- (UPI) -- At least five firemen were killed and 11 injured today while fighting a spectacular fire that collapsed two big storage buildings near the Chicago Loop.
Firemen dug through the ruins of the structures for at least two reported missing in the fire, which brought out a third of the city's fire-fighting force, shot flames 50 feet into the air and billowed clouds of smoke toward the Loop.
The victims were trapped by falling walls and roofing material while fighting the flames in 5-degree weather which froze most hydrants and forced firemen to pump water through trucks from the Chicago River.
The Cook County morgue said the dead were burned so badly definite identification was difficult or impossible immediately. One victim was tentatively identified at 1st Battalion Chief GEORGE REESE. Another was identified as HILLARD S. AUGUSTINE and a third as C. F. RAUCH.
Another victim wore gloves with the name "SLIWINSKI" inside one of them. A fifth wore a wedding band ring with the initials "MJG to REB."
Most of the injured were cut, bruised or burned. They were taken to two Loop-area hospitals.
Fire Commissioner ROBERT QUINN said he saw no other bodies in the wreckage but two firemen were reported missing.
One fireman was dragged to safety after being trapped in the wreckage for about an hour after the six-story structure collapsed.
The fire broke out about 4:30 a.m. CST in an upper floor of the bakery storage building and spread to a glass company building. QUINN said it might have been caused by an explosion of sugar and oil stored in the bakery building. The flames were brought under control about 4 1/2 hours later.
Three walls of the bakery storage building collapsed almost simultaneously, leaving a two-story high mass of bricks, mortar and twisted steel. Most of the roof of the glass firm building also collapsed.
Firemen dug into the piles of debris to find any of their colleagues who were trapped.
The fire shot flames 50 feet into the air and billowed thick clouds of smoke eastward toward the Loop. Fire hydrants froze in 5-degree temperatures and firemen were forced to pump water through a series of trucks from the North Branch of the Chicago River about a block away.
Chief Fire Marshal RAYMOND J. DALY said the fire caused at least half a million dollars damage. Both buildings were a complete loss.

Eureka Humboldt Standard California 1961-01-28




Chicago (AP) -- Walls collapsed on more than a score of firemen fighting one of two spectacular blazes in near zero weather Saturday. Eight bodies were recovered from the mountain of rubble and one firefighter was missing.
Fourteen other firemen were rescued and hospitalized after the walls of one of two factory buildings destroyed in the near Northwest Side blaze caved in.
Several firemen who answered cries of help from those buried under the debris of the walls were crushed to death when the roof of the second building fell in on them.
Bodies Sought.
Rescuers battled cold, debris, flaming timbers and onsetting darkness in their efforts to recover bodies.
Some of the equipment fighting the $500,000 factory fire was called away to battle a second blaze, a three-story brick building on the North Side which housed a bowling alley, a dance hall, stores and apartments.
Four persons were injured, one critically, in the second blaze which caused damage estimated in excess of $200,000. Spokesmen for the bowling alley where the fire apparently started said the blaze may have been set deliberately by disgruntled teenagers.
A series of alarms brought 316 men and 67 pieces of equipment to the factory blaze shortly after dawn. Later two fireboats tied up in the Chicago River nearby began pumping water on the fire.
Wall Topples.
The firemen were trapped when 5th Battalion Chief GEORGE KUHN led a group to the roof of the two-story factory building to see if they could run a hose line into the burning six-story building. The adjoining wall of the taller building toppled on them.
Other firemen heard their cries of help and rushed into the smaller building. The roof collapsed on them.
Firemen said the six-story building, housing the HILKER & BLETSCH Co., bakery supply firm, went up like an "egg crate." The blaze was fed by oils and other highly inflammable materials used by the firm.
The smaller building of the Crown Glass Co. held large quantities of empty one-gallon tin containers, which were strewn over a wide area after the roof collapsed. Firemen formed a chain to pass the cans out before they could proceed with rescue work.

The News & Tribune Jefferson City Missouri 1961-01-29