January 28, 1961
On January 28, 1961, nine Chicago firefighters died while battling a warehouse fire at 614 Hubbard Street. The warehouse, which stored bakery supplies and frozen foods, was a seven-story building, located in a railroad yard and heavy industry area. The fire started in the upper floors of the building and had been burning for some time before being detected by railroad workers. The fire department was called at 6:23 a.m., by which time flames were already bursting through the windows. The call quickly escalated to a special alarm, bringing 316 firefighters, 67 pieces of apparatus, four ambulances, three rescue squads, and fireboats which pumped water from the Chicago River. Located adjacent to the warehouse was a two-story building. Several firefighters were on the roof of the two-story building attempting to run a hose into the burning warehouse, when the warehouse wall collapsed onto them. Other firefighters went to dig them out of the debris. As the victims were being rescued, the roof they were on collapsed, trapping both the initial victims and their rescuers. Other firefighters came to the rescue, eventually digging through ten feet of debris to reach all the victims. Meanwhile, the fire raged on. The temperature was near zero degrees that day. Water used to fight the fire caused the area around the warehouse to fill with water and ice, freezing the equipment in place. The fire was eventually extinguished later in the day. In the end, nine firefighters were killed and fifteen firefighters were injured.