Thursday, November 2, 2017


On Nov. 2, 1961, a two-alarm blaze gutted the interior of the Phipps Auditorium in Denver City Park and smoke from the fire caused damage to the adjacent Museum of Natural History.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Tuesday, September 26, 2017


: Denver Public Library 

On July 7, 1971, fire destroyed the Denargo Market, a produce warehouse in Denver.

Firefighters were hampered by the lack of fire hydrants in the area and a loss of water pressure,'' according to Denver Public Library researcher James Rogers.

Firefighters contended with other hazards, including two railroad tank cars filled with carbon dioxide, 50 kegs of black powder in a nearby property and 13,000 volt power lines, according to Rogers.

It was the second major blaze to strike the market, the first occurring Dec. 16, 1952.

Monday, July 31, 2017


Photo: City of Fort Collins

On July 28, 1997, rains
lifted Spring Creek over its bank, sending a flash flood crashing into Fort Collins.

Five people died, 50 others were injured and 200
 homes were lost.

"Chaos. It was a lot of chaos," said Poudre Fire Authority Chief Tom DeMint, quoted on the 20th anniversary of the flood by Fox 31 Denver.

Four of the deaths occurred in a mobile home park on College Avenue, 
according to the Colorado Encyclopedia. The fifth occurred in a residential neighborhood.

Poudre Fire Authority Captain Steve Fleming described the mayhem to the
Coloradoan newspaper:

``We had campers and propane cylinders; there was a trailer on fire, explosions at the laundromat, train derailment, people yelling for help, oil in the water ... and all of it happened within 30 minutes.''

Damage was estimated at $200 million.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017


Photo: Daily Sentinel

On April 9, 1974, wind-whipped flames swept the Seventh Street industrial area of Grand Junction, Colorado, destroying Mesa Feed and Farm Supply, H&M Electric and the Daily Sentinel printing plant, which was packed with rolls of newsprint.

A lumber yard also burned.

Embers drifted for blocks, setting alight the American Linen Co. on Ninth Street, according to a report in the Daily Sentinel marking the 30th anniversary of the fire.

Retired firefighter Mike Page said "red hot" pieces of tin broke loose as flames engulfed Mesa Feed while smoke reduced visibility.

The wind was so strong it was blowing the smoke horizontal,'' Page recalled in an interview with the Daily Sentinel ``When we arrived at the scene and crossed the railroad tracks, we couldn’t see because of the smoke.''

Three firefighters were injured battling the blaze.

The fire broke out on the same site as a 
Nov. 3, 1898 fire that destroyed the Grand Junction Milling and Elevator Co.

Friday, February 3, 2017


Photo: Greeley Fire Dept.
Island Grove grandstand, Greeley - 1977

Photo: Poudre Valley Fire Authority
Fire in downtown Fort Collins, circa 1970s or 1980s

Photos: Wyoming State Archives
16th Street, Cheyenne, Wyoming, date unknown, left. Cheyenne High School, Aug. 6, 1963, right.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

WEST HOTEL - 1975 & 1982

Fire visited the West Hotel, at 1337 California St. in Denver, in 1975 and 1982. On Dec. 30, 1975, a blaze damaged the fourth floor, top. On April 14, 1982, a fire injured about a dozen people, bottom.

Friday, January 27, 2017


Frank Lunt of Truck 2

On Sept. 20, 1904, nitric acid fumes killed four firemen extinguishing a small fire in the engraving department of The Denver Post.

Lieutenant Charles Dolloff of Engine 4 was the first to succumb to his injuries.

The others were:

John McGlade - known as "Handsome Jack" - of Truck 2

Frank Lunt of Truck 2

Captain Charles Eymann of Truck 1

About a dozen other firemen were injured, including future Fire Chief John Healy.

Nitric acid, HNO3, is a colorless, fuming chemical that is
highly corrosive.

The spill was estimated at about 10 gallons.

Reporting on the effects of nitric acid, the Journal of the American Medical Association provided the following account:

"The Denver Fire Department was called to the office of the Denver Post Sept. 20, 1904, at 4 p. m.

"On arrival they were informed that a carboy of nitric acid had been accidentally broken in an attempt to remove the stopper with a hammer.

"The acid spread across the floor, coming in contact with the zinc used in etching.

"Sawdust was used to absorb it, and, rapidly oxidizing, burst into flame here and there, resulting in the call for the firemen.

"Mr. Bradt, foreman of the department, who was at work in the room, states that the fumes and smoke were not especially irritating until the portable apparatus began playing on the fire."

The article continued:

"Eighteen firemen and two men employed in the office were affected severely enough to demand medical aid.

"Of these, four died, two on the second day, from the direct consequences, and two several weeks later from relapse.

"The immediate symptoms complained of while exposed to the fumes were, in order of frequency, as follows: Dyspnea, pain in the stomach, pain in the chest, headache, dryness of the throat, coughing, vomiting, dizziness, difficulty in walking, and dryness of the nose.

"No unconsciousness was noted.

"Nearly all the firemen returned to their respective firehouses, not considering themselves seriously sick.

"After a few hours many of them sought medical aid, and within twenty-four hours all of them excepting one were patients in the Emergency Hospital."

Thursday, January 26, 2017

MALL FIRE - 1983

Photo: Denver Public Library

On Nov. 23, 1983, fire ravaged the University Hills Shopping Center, the first 5-alarm blaze in Denver Fire Department history.

Flames spread through suspended ceilings and reached more than a dozen stores, many stocked for the holiday shopping season.

Other business sustained smoke damage.

Two of the 150 firefighters at the scene were injured.

Denver Fire Chief Myrle Wise called the blaze "one of the worst" in his 40-year career.

Water from fire engines and aerial ladders turned to ice in near-zero temperatures.

Thirty-five of the city's 41 piece of fire apparatus attended the fire.

According to a Facebook post by Assistant Fire Gregory Taft, police were first on the scene to investigate a burglar alarm and encountered smoke.

The first alarm was transmitted at 12:25 a.m., with Engine 24 - located across from the mall - first due.

Engine 24 and Engine 22 entered the front doors of Yarbro Drug with 3 hose lines while Truck 22's crew climbed to the roof and reported heavy fire venting around air handling equipment and the roof sinking by about a foot, Taft  wrote.  

A special call followed at 12:31 a.m. for an additional engine and truck, with fire dispatchers adding Squad 1 to the assignment.

The 2nd alarm was struck at 12:40 a.m.

The 3rd Alarm at 1:00 a.m.

The 4th Alarm at 1:15 a.m.

Special calls were made between  1:24 a.m. and 2:53 am.

Chief Wise declared the 5th Alarm at 3:15 a.m.

Off-duty firefighters were called back to cover the city.


Photo: Denver Fire Dept.

On Nov. 25-26, 1990, Denver firefighters battled flames at a United Airlines jet fuel depot near Stapleton International Airport for 53 hours.

Dark clouds from the blaze
drifted over the city and health officials warned people with respiratory problems to remain indoors.

About a quarter of the 13 million gallons of jet fuel at the depot went up in flames that reached as high as 500 feet.

"It was a monster," Denver Fire Department spokesman Mike McNeill said.

Temperatures reached 3,500F.

The fire was finally "snuffed out" when Continental Airlines, which owned tanks near the United tanks, hired the private oil well firefighting company Boots & Coots of Texas.

Denver Fire Chief Richard Gonzales said: "The reality is this kind of thing doesn't happen very often and there are very few people who do it on a regular basis."

Boots & Coots president Dwight Williams likened his specialty to "riding bad horses.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

ICE HOUSE - 2007

Photo: Pueblo Fire MuseumIn 2007, fire destroyed the Pueblo Ice House at West Sixth and Elizabeth streets. It was contaminated by asbestos and labeled an environmental risk before the blaze.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

BUTTE - 1895

On Jan. 15, 1895, a series of powder explosions ripped through the warehouse district of Butte, Montana, killing 57 people - including 13 of the city's 15 firefighters.

Box 72 was transmitted just before 10 p.m., an alarm station that would become known as "Fateful Box 72," according to the
City and County of Butte-Silver Bow.

A dispatch to The Denver News said: "There were three separate explosions, the first two breaking nearly every window in a radius of two miles. Men and women were mowed down like grass before a sickle."

Of the two firefighters who survived, 
John Flannery was at the hydrant and Dave Magee, the driver, was shielded by his team.

A fire horse named Jim also survived.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017


Dramatic photo from Facebook page of Laramie, Wyoming, IAFF Local  946. Date and location of incident unknown.


Fort Carson, Colorado

Laramie, Wyoming
Durango, Colorado 
Fort Collins, Colorado
Missoula, Montana

Cheyenne, Wyoming
Eaton, Colorado
Pueblo, Colorado

Farmington, New Mexico
Fort Collins, Colorado
Pueblo, Colorado


The city of Casper, Wyoming, protected in its early years by volunteers, hired its first paid fireman in 1912 at a salary of $100 per month.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017


Photo: Burlington Volunteer Fire Dept.

On Dec. 16, 1945, fire destroyed the Montezuma Hotel in Burlington, Colorado.

The hotel was full for the night, according to the Burlington Volunteer Fire Department website, yet there were no injuries.

A person reported as missing was found at home.

Another major fire struck a few months later at Shank's Cafe on July 13, 1946.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016


Photo: Grand Junction Fire Dept. Facebook

Grand Junction firemen at the ready, circa 1915

The Grand Junction Fire Department was organized in 1883 with a corps of volunteers, according to the Museums of Western Colorado. In 1889, the Cameron Hose Cart Company established its quarters at City Hall at 5th and Colorado. The first paid firemen were hired in 1902.


Photo: Colorado Springs Fire Dept. 

Members of the Colorado Springs Fire Department dubbed their unique, side-paneled pumper "Coal Chute" for its ladder mount over the hose bed.

Thursday, September 22, 2016


Photo: Denver Fire. Dept.

On Feb. 8, 1969, a three-alarm fire destroyed the Miller Hotel at 1126 17th St., Denver. 

The alarm came in at 3:50 p.m.

According to an article by b
y Assistant Chief Gregory Taft:

Numerous rescues were performed, and a portion of the 4th floor collapsed onto 17th Street. Four residents and one firefighter were hospitalized for injuries. The building was a total loss, and the residents lost everything, including the oldest resident, age 82, who had lived in the hotel for 34 years.

The Denver Fire Department contended with three simultaneous three-alarm fires that day.

The others were at Carney Lumber Co. and  Empire Roofing Co.

Friday, August 19, 2016


On Aug. 22, 1928, Denver Fire Dept. Pumper 21 collided with a coal truck at Virginia Avenue and South Clarkson Street, killing Thomas M. Hyder, 29, the pumper's driver. T
hree other firefighters were injured. The driver of the coal truck was also injured and said he didn't see or hear Pumper 21 until he was in the intersection, according to historical research by Assistant Chief Gregory Taft posted on the fire department's Facebook page.


Photo: Greeley Fire Dept.
Greeley Fire Dept. ladder drill - 1962


Yee Geow, the assailant 

On Sept. 10, 1920, John S. Federhen, 30, a member of the Cheyenne (Wyoming) Fire Department, was shot to death inside the city fire station by a Chinese man fleeing an immigration official.

Federal agent Thomas Holland, 48, was also wounded and died about a week later.

The assailant, Yee Geow, was executed by hanging on 
March 11, 1921.


John S. Federhen, 30, veteran of the world war and member of the Cheyenne fire department, was murdered, and Thomas Holland, 48, agent of the department of justice, was perhaps mortally wounded, by Yee Geow, 23, Chinese, at 4:40 o'clock Friday afternoon. The murderer was captured immediately and is in the Laramie county jail. The shooting of Holland took place on Pioneer avenue just north of the city fire station, and that of Federhen inside the station, into which Geow pursued W.R. Mansfield, inspector for the immigration service, with the intention of murdering him. Mansfield escaped unharmed and assisted Fire Lieutenant Charles Kammerer in arresting the Chinese.

Mansfield, who is the chief immigration inspector for this district, arrived from Denver Thursday. Yesterday he and Holland, local agent of the department of justice, as is done periodically, made the rounds of local Chinese establishments for the purpose of checking up the inmates at a Chinese laundry on Pioneer avenue, near Lincoln Way, they found Geow, a youthful Chinese of such slight proportions that they assumed him to be merely a boy, and Mansfield made inquiries regarding him of the other Chinese present. One of these informed him that the stranger was a cousin of Yee Dow, who is a kind of head man of the local Chinese colony.

While the inquiries were being made Geow, who previously had given no intimation that he understood what Mansfield was talking about, suddenly leaped to his feet and fled into an adjoining room. Mansfield gave chase and after passing through two rooms cornered the Chinese in a toilet. Geow for a time declined to leave the toilet, but eventually did so.

In the meantime Yee Dow appeared on the scene, denied that Geow was related to him and informed Mansfield that the youth was without papers showing him to be entitled to be in the United States. Dow expressed the opinion that Geow was in this country illegally.

Geow at this manifested a knowledge of English and asserted that he rightfully was in the United States. He made no protest when informed that he must accompany the officers to the sheriff's office for investigation. His appearance was so youthful and his demeanor too meek that it does appear to have occurred to either Mansfield or Holland to search him for weapons.

Mansfield. Holland and the prisoner started for the sheriff's office, Dow accompanying them. Holland walked ahead with the prisoner and Mansfield, who was conversing with Dow regarding Geow and total Chinese matters, gradually fell back until he and Dow perhaps were thirty feet behind Holland and the prisoner when the Pioneer avenue fire station was reached.

Just north of the station, Mansfield stated, he was startled by the sound of a shot. Looking ahead, he saw Holland in a half stooping position, with one hand pressed against his leg, and the Chinese backing away, revolver in hand. At that moment Holland made a lunge at the Chinese and the latter fired a second shot then turned and made straight for Mansfield, firing at the latter. The bullet missed Mansfield and the officer, who was unarmed, leaped into the open door of the fire station and ran toward the rear. Geow pursued and Mansfield ran past the fire-fighting machinery and into a lounging room where Federhen and Charles Kisselback, members of the fire department, were playing cards while James Cole, also a fireman, looked on.

Mansfield states that as he ran through the room he shouted a warning that he was pursued by a man who was attempting to shoot him. The three firemen, it appears from the somewhat conflicting accounts of what took place, attempted to get through one door, into the main room of the fire station, while Mansfield took refuge in a small room adjacent to that in which the card game had been in progress, slamming the door behind him. Geow ran through the door into the room where the game had been in progress, gun in hand, and, having lost sight of Mansfield, fired and Federhen dropped at the door's threshold. Kisselback stumbled over the body of his friend and that fact perhaps saved his life, a bullet fired at him by the Chinese grazing his body as he stumbled.

Geow, holding his revolver in readiness, walked past the prostrate Federhen and toward the front doors, of the building. Newell Bell, veteran driver, who was at the rear of the building when the shooting began and who had hastened inside to see what was the cause of the noise, observed the Chinese and shouted at him;

'"What's going on here? Drop that gun!"

Geow turned toward Bell, his revolver held in both hands and pointed toward the floor, and seemingly from nervousness discharged the weapon, the bullet entering the floor at his feet. He then threw his arms above his head, casting the revolver aside, and did not resist when grasped by Bell.

At that moment Fire Lieutenant Charles Kamrnerer, who also had been at the rear of the building, arrived on the run and also grasped the Chinese, Mansfield emerged from the room in which he had taken refuge and he and Kammerer immediately rushed the prisoner to the sheriff's office, two blocks distant, this prompt action possibly preventing the murderer meeting summary vengeance from friends of the slain fireman and wounded officer.

As Kammerer and Mansfield with the prisoner between them passed Holland, the latter, who had not fallen when wounded, was easing himself into a prone position on the slanting approach leading from the sidewalk into Reed Hollister's motorcycle shop.

"Did he get you, Tom?" asked Mansfield.

"Yes, he got me." Holland responded, and collapsed until he lay on his side in the doorway.

Perhaps ten minutes elapsed before an ambulance arrived to carry the wounded Holland to the hospital. Meanwhile Police Sergeant Jack McFarland and volunteer assistants had difficulty in keeping the curious crowd from clustering so closely about the wounded man that there was danger that he might be trampled underfoot. Holland. who was conscious and suffering keenly, made no sound and patiently awaited the arrival of the ambulance, into which he was lifted with difficulty, because of his great weight, by Sergeant McFarland, Undersheriff Lon C. Davis and others. Immediately after the arrival at the hospital he was placed on the operating table.

Meanwhile Dr. J. H. Conway had arrived at the fire station and was ministering to Federhen. The surgeon found that the bullet had passed through the fireman's body just above the heart and that the wound almost certainly was a mortal one. Federhen was placed in a fire truck and, with the physician accompanying him, was rushed to St. John's hospital. He died enroute, but that fact was not ascertained until after he had been carried into the institution. As his body was being carried out it was passed by the stretcher-bearers who were carrying the wounded Holland into the hospital.

Dr. Conway immediately gave attention to Holland on the latter's arrival at the hospital and decided that an operation must be performed. Assisted by Dr. J. T. Henneberry, he operated, the surgeons finding that one bullet had struck Holland just to the right of the naval and had ranged downward, penetrating one loop of the intestines and the bladder and lodging just beneath the skin low down on the buttocks. The other bullet passed through the calf of the officer's left leg, the wound which it inflicted being inconsequential in comparison with that through the body. The operation was an extremely difficult one because of the obesity of the patient and Holland was on the operating table approximately two hours. He emerged from the ordeal in remarkably good condition and may have an even chance for recovery.

Wyoming State Tribune, Sept. 11, 1920


Cheyenne Detective Succumbs to Gunshot Wounds Inflicted by Chinaman—Funeral to be Held Sunday

Thomas Holland, who was shot down last Friday by Yee Geow, a Chinaman, near the Cheyenne fire station, died at 2 a. m. today from the result of the wounds.

The deceased was born in Fort Collins. Colo., September 15, 1871 and was 49 years old last Wednesday. He was the elder son of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel P. Holland, highly respected Cheyenne pioneers, who passed away only a few years ago. The Hollands came to this city in 1876 and Tom entered the Cheyenne schools. When a young man he became a fireman on the Union Pacific and was promoted to engineer about 1893. He acted in a similar capacity on the Colorado & Southern railroad running north out of the city.

Former Fire Chief

In 1903 he was a member of the Cheyenne police department, serving about three years. He was a member of the old Cheyenne volunteer fire department, and its chief from 1908 until 1910, when the department was taken over by the city and placed upon a salary basis.

Mr. Holland then organized the Cheyenne Detective bureau, which he has conducted ever since, and in recent years had acted as a special representative of the department of justice, in which work he was engaged when shot by the Chinaman, who was technically under arrest for entering the United States without passports.

Funeral Sunday

Tom Holland was a member of the Elks' lodge and the Knights of Pythias. He was a man of pleasing disposition and made many friends and no enemies. He leaves no immediate relatives except a younger brother, Alvin Holland, who resides in the old home on Van Lennen street.

The funeral will be held at the Elks' home, probably at 3 o'clock Sunday afternoon.

The following jurors have been summoned by Judge Edwards to sit in the inquest over the body, at the mortuary of Early-Bricker brothers. Friday afternoon at 4 o'clock: William Dinneen, J. F. Jenkins and William Hoshaw.

Drs. Henneberry and Conway held an autopsy upon the body Friday morning.

Wyoming State Tribune, Sept. 17, 1920

Dead Fireman Was Known By Sight To Many Local Folks

John S. Federhen Carried Marion Jeffries Down Ladder In Movie-Tom Holland Has Chance For Life

John S. Federhen, city fireman, who was shot to death by a desperate Chinese Friday afternoon, was more widely known in Cheyenne than many people who read of his tragic death were aware. Of the thousands of persons who saw the movie "The Girl from Cheyenne," or who witnessed the filming of it, many noted the fireman who carried Marion Jeffries down the ladder in the fire scene, enacting a role he might have been called to take at any time in real life. That fireman was John S. Federhen, the victim of the assassin's bullet.

The other target of Yee Geow's revolver, Tom Holland, is resting easily, and chances of his recovery are now held out. Despite the extraordinary wound he received, and the difficulty of the operation, which was accentuated by his fleshiness, he is doing as well as might be expected under such circumstances.

That John Federhen met his death as the result of wounds maliciously and feloniously inflicted by Yee Geow was the verdict of a coroner's jury Saturday morning. After examining the evidence presented to them, the jury decided that the Chinaman shot without provocation, and at a time when his mind was presumably free to knowledge of the nature of his act. The testimony of the witnesses all agreed on this phase of occurence.

Relatives of the dead man, who live at Springfield, Ill., were notified of the tragedy Friday night, and they replied with a telegram Saturday morning, requesting that his body be sent to that city for burial.

Cheyenne State Leader, 
Sept. 12, 1920

Monday, July 11, 2016


Photo: Colorado State University archives

On Dec. 22, 1921, fire destroyed the chemistry building at Colorado State University in Fort Collins as  l
ow water pressure prevented firefighters from attacking the blaze.

The building was in flames when the alarmed was turned in from Box 81 at Laurel and College avenues at 2:30 a.m. "sharp" by C.M. Cooksie, a member of the Alpha Psi fraternity, the Fort Collins Courier reported.

All that was left was "a mass of smoldering ruins," the newspaper said.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016


Photo: Colorado Public Library
On July 14, 1920, a wall collapsed during a fire at East Turner Hall at 20th and Arapahoe streets in Denver. The blaze damaged the Scott Automobile Body Company, seven residences and a printing shop, according to Fire and Water Engineering magazine.


On March 6, 1949, an arson fire damaged Cranford Hall at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. The building housed the school's theater department.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016


On Christmas Day 1907, fire destroyed the Rio Grande rail depot at Alamosa, Colorado, the Salida Mail reported. The fire made significant headway before the alarm was sounded. Flames were  "so fierce that the local fire department was entirely unable to make successful combat," the newspaper said.

Sunday, March 27, 2016


Fort Collins firefighters post Fire Prevention Week signs from bed of 1938 Diamond-T rural engine in October 1950.

Photo: Poudre Valley Fire Authority


On Oct. 12, 1928, Denver firemen William Barber, Richard Schwairy and Silas Briggs were killed when Pumper 7 and Truck 12 collided at 42nd Avenue and Federal Boulevard. Four others were injured.

Photo: Denver Fire Dept.