Tuesday, December 9, 2014

1980s & 1990s


    Masonic Lodge No. 5,  Welton Street, Denver - 1983
    Photo: Lodge No. 5 website
  • On June 29, 1981, fire destroyed the Stevens Hotel in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Five people were injured. [UPI dispatch in Pittsburgh Press] Rick Farwell, spokesman for the Cheyenne Fire Department, described the old hotel as "a total loss."
  • On Jan. 26, 1982, Boulder firefighters William J. Duran and Scott L. Smith died in a training fire in a building near 15th Street and Hawthorn Avenue. Three other firefighters were injured.
  • On Nov. 23, 1983, a five-alarm fire burned for nine hours at the University Hills Shopping Center in Denver. [Associated Press] The 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 sustained injuries. 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. [AP story in Palm Beach Post]
  • On March 4, 1983, fire gutted the Masonic Temple in downtown Denver. Flames shot 75 feet into the air. Several firefighters suffered burns. The temple - known as "The Old Lady on Welton Street" - was built in 1889.
  • On Aug. 1, 1984, a commercial truck carrying six Navy torpedoes overturned at the junction of I-70 and I-25 in Denver, a busy intersection nicknamed "The "Mouse Trap." The Denver Fire Department turned to an Army ordnance team to secure the 19-foot-long torpedoes packed in shipping crates. [Associated Press story in Spokesman-Review of Spokane, Aug. 2, 1984]
  • On Dec. 16, 1985, a dozen people died in a propane explosion at Rocky Mountain Natural Gas in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. [Glenwood Springs Post]
  • On Nov. 15, 1987, Continental Airlines Flight 1713 crashed as it departed Denver's Stapleton International Airport in a snowstorm, killing 28 people and injuring 54 others. Firefighters worked for hours to free survivors from the wreckage of the DC-9 jetliner. "They were digging them out row by row," said Joe Cipri, a Denver firefighter. [Associated Press] "Some were screaming, but most people were real calm -- just waiting their turns to get out." One victim yelled "Get me out of here" but was dead by the time firefighters reached him, Cipri said. Rory Moore, another firefighter, said it was "a horrible feeling -- a helpless feeling" trying to rescue so many people. Investigators later said icing interfered with the aircraft's controls. [Associated Press story in Anchorage Daily News]
  • In 1988, fires swept 1 million acres of Yellowstone National Park.
  • On Easter Sunday 1988 (April 3, 1988), fire swept a row of businesses at Fourth and Lincoln streets in Loveland, Colorado. Firefighters from Loveland, Fort Collins, Berthoud and the Big Thompson Canyon Fire Department worked for three hours to bring the fire under control. They were equipped with four pumpers, two aerial ladders and two squads. The first crews to arrive at the fire reported heavy smoke from the roof. The business row was constructed in the 1890s. Arson was the probable cause of the fire. Lincoln Street was closed for several days after the blaze. [Loveland Fire Rescue Authority archives]
  • On April 21, 1988, Steven Huitt, an Airman assigned to the F.E. Warren Air Force Base Fire Department in Cheyenne, Wyoming, died in a joint firefighter training exercise with city firefighters at the military facility.
  • On Jan.31, 1989, Alan Lee Mickelson, 36, a member of the Gillette, Wyoming, Fire Department, fell to his death after a roof collapsed at a church fire. Unknown to the firefighters, the fire had been burning for seven hours in a concealed space between the ceiling and roof. Mickelson, a volunteer for ten years, was among the first firefighters in Campbell County, Wyoming, to achieve Firefighter III certification. [Fire Dept. website] 
  • 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. [New York Times] 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 3500F. 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. [Associated Press story printed in Alleghany Times] 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 Wiliams likened his specialty to "riding bad horses."
  • 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. [New York Times] 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 3500F. 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. [Associated Press story printed in Alleghany Times] 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 Wiliams likened his specialty to "riding bad horses.
  • On March 4, 1991, fire swept a retirement home in Colorado Springs and killed nine residents. "Neighbors and employees pushed most of the residents to safety in wheelchairs." [Associated Press story in St. Louis Post-Dispatch]
  • On July 6, 1994, Colorado's South Canyon Fire - at Storm King Mountain, near Glenwood Springs - killed 14 forest service firefighters. Lightning touched off the blaze two days earlier. Shifting winds fanned flames that trapped the firefighters.
  • On Jan. 27, 1997, an arson fire killed five people at the La Hacienda, a residential motel in the Denver suburb of Thornton, which is covered by the North Metro Rescue Fire Authority. Two firefighters fell through the roof of the motel, and one of them suffered a leg injury. [Associated Press story in Daily Courier of Yavapai County, Arizona] 
  • On July 12, 1998, an arson fire damaged a decommissioned B-52 bomber at an aviation museum on the site of the former Lowry Air Force Base, Denver. [Rocky Mountain News]

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