Fire Buffs promote the general welfare of the fire and rescue service and protect its heritage and history. Famous Fire Buffs through the years include New York Fire Surgeon Harry Archer, Boston Pops Conductor Arthur Fiedler, New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia and - legend has it - President George Washington.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014


Crash at Stapleton Airport - 1961
  • On Aug. 8, 1960, fire destroyed the derelict Canyon Hotel at Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. The 19th century hotel closed in 1959 and was undergoing demolition.
  • On March 24, 1961, a three-alarm fire destroyed a four-story building on Arapahoe Street in Denver, and first aid crews administered oxygen to 40 firefighters and police officers suffering smoke inhalation. [United Press International dispatch in Spokane Daily Chronicle] Denver Fire Chief Allie Feldman, concerned about the stability of the building, ordered firefighters out after the flames were contained.
  • On July 11, 1961, United Airlines Flight 859 crashed and exploded in flames at Denver's Stapleton Field, killing 17 people. Airport firefighters were praised for their valiant efforts, but the City of Denver was later criticized for being inadequately prepared for emergencies involving large jetliners, such as ill-fated, the four-engine DC-8. An FAA inspector had warned that the airport's fire equipment was too old for the jet age. Firehouse staffing was also considered inadequate. Flight 859 "ground looped after the crash, swerved off the runway and smashed into a truck." [Associated Press]. The truck driver, Henry Blom, was killed. Denver Fire Chief Allie Feldman said the other fatalities were trapped in the burning aircraft. Ten minutes before the crash, pilot John Grosso reported a hydraulics system problem. An airport worker said he heard "a big bang" and saw "this thing had slewed right around on the runway and burst into flame." Dr. Earl Guyer, a clinical psychologist at the Veterans Hospital at Fort Lyons, was at the airport to meet his wife and three small daughters. They were among the dead. [AP story in Daily Tribune of Greeley, Colorado]
  • On Dec. 16, 1961, fire at a nursing home in Sheridan, Wyoming, killed three patients - Minnie Craig, 76; Anna Cossitt, 75 and Elmer Wiggins, 75. Nine others were carried to safety on the backs of firefighters and police officers. The two-story nursing home was of frame construction. [Associated Press story in Lewiston Morning Tribune of Idaho]
  • On Sept. 2, 1962, fire raged out of control for more than four hours at the historic Albany Hotel in Denver. [Associated Press] The fire killed Stella Bruce, 35, a waitress, and injured about 50 others. A number of firefighters were treated for smoke inhalation. Guests used fire escapes to exit the 7-story building. The Albany Hotel had 300 guest rooms. ADT Box 157 was received at fire alarm headquarters at about 2:20 p.m. local time. [AP story in Ellensburg Daily Record, Denver Firefighters Museum]
  • Dec. 13, 1962: "We did our job and got the hell out of there." That's how John DeJong, assistant Denver Fire chief, described the rescue of Linda Jane Hinchman, a student at Colorado Womens College. Hinchman, 17, of Glenwood, Indiana, wedged her toe in a faucet while bathing. Firemen sawed off the faucet and freed her toe with petroleum jelly. The freshman was "well-bundled" by classmates by the time firemen arrived. She kept the bathtub faucet as a souvenir.[United Press International dispatch in the Dec. 14, 1962 News-Press of St. Joseph, MO]
  • On Feb. 16, 1963, Denver firefighters administered oxygen to 38 members of the Bennett High School pep club after they were sickened by carbon monoxide fumes from a loose tail pipe on a school bus returning from a basketball game in Central City. [Associated Press] "Some of the girls were verging on unconsciousness" [AP] Bus driver Flloyd Hamilton stopped the bus when some of the 55 passengers complained of feeling ill. Bob Kempter, a cab driver, saw the students "kneeling and reeling and called the Denver Fire Department." [AP]
  • On May 16, 1964, members of the Pueblo Rural Fire Department responded to a house fire and found the remains of five children aged from 3 years to 9 years. Their parents were at a party when the fire broke out. The fire department attributed the blaze to an overheated wood stove. [United Press International dispatch in Spokane Daily Chronicle 5/16/64]
  • On Jan. 5, 1965, a two-alarm fire struck the J.A. Sharoff Co., at 1644 Market St., Denver, and forced the evacuation of a neighboring hotel. The fire was held to the Sharoff building. [Big Hammer newsletter] 
  • On Jan. 6, 1965, Protex Industries, 1331 West Evans Ave., Denver, was the site of a two-alarm fire. Electrical equipment shorted out as oil was pumped into the building. [Big Hammer newsletter]
  • On Feb. 20, 1965, a suspicious fire caused extensive damage to St. John's Church in Denver. [Big Hammer newsletter] 
  • On June 10, 1965, Denver Fire Chief Cassio Frazini was swept from a rescue boat during a flash flood in the city. Frazini survived by clinging to a tree. [Associated Press story in Owosso Argus Press of Michigan] 
  • On June 29, 1965, Clifford Carpenter, Fort Collins fire chief, was killed by falling bricks and mortar at a book store fire. Carpenter was directing hose lines at College and Oak streets when an exterior wall gave way. [Fort Collins History Conection] Newspapers published photographs of the chief, in his white helmet, in the seconds leading to his death. Carpenter was 49.
  • On Feb. 8, 1969, the Denver Fire Department contended with three simultaneous three-alarm fires at Carney Lumber Co., Empire Roofing Co., and the Miller Hotel. [Denver Firefighters Museum]
  • Starting in the late 1960s and continuing into the early 1970s, an arson ring caused millions of dollars in damage to construction projects in the Denver area.

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