Shortly before 3:00 am on Sunday, July 12, 1942 a fire was reported at Lewis Artist Supply Company, 6408 Woodward Avenue near Baltimore Street. The initial companies on scene found the fire difficult to fight due to the intense heat generated by the paint and other supplies within the store.
Additional fire companies were called as the fire began spreading to other business along Woodward and Baltimore. It eventually went to a 4th alarm with a total of 17 fire companies and the Chief of Department Alexander Thompson responding.
A crew working in the rear of the Lewis Artist Supply was attempting to remove a grating to better attack the flames in the basement of the building. Suddenly there was an explosion and flames burst from the building. They started to run as a 15’ concrete wall collapsed on top of 5 of the men.
Pipeman Stanley Hausch, Engine 17, was killed by the falling wall. Stanley was 46 years old. He had served on the department for 23 years. He left behind his wife Jennie, a daughter Mrs. Constance Kaspark, and a son Richard.
Captain John Dankowski, Lieutenant Vince Grenwick, Pipeman Clyde Jenkins, and Pipeman Robert McKenzie were also severely injured. They were taken to Harper Hospital and reported in serious condition. Three other firemen received burns, cuts and bruises. They were treated at the scene and remained on duty.
Lieutenant Grenwick, who suffered a broken leg, said “All of a sudden there was a sheet of flames. We started to run but the wall caught 5 of us. It knocked me down and I held up a mass of blocks until the weight broke my leg.”
The fire spread to Woods Dance Academy, which was severely damaged, and continued to spread down Baltimore Street. Before it was brought under control, 3 bars, a bowling alley, laundry, cleaning establishment and 5 other small stores were damaged.