Largest Loss of Detroit Firefighers’ Lives In History

Today in Detroit Fire History –  October 5th, 1894

The Detroit Fire Department suffered the loss of firefighters’ lives from a single incident in its history.

On the morning of October 5th, 1894 wood shavings in the basement of Keenan & Jahn’s Furniture Store caught fire.  The fire quickly spread up the elevator shaft to the top of the 5 story building.  There were over 60 employees in the building at the time the fire started.  Most of the employees were in the manufacturing area on the buildings upper floors.  The fire spread so quickly that employees had difficulties escaping the building.  While none of them were killed, more than a dozen were severely injured.  By the time the fire department arrived, the entire building was engulfed in flames. 

About an hour after they began fighting the fire, firemen from Engine-8, Truck 2 and Truck 6 were working in the rear alley.  Engine-9, Chemical 1 and Truck-2 were working in the windows and doors of the ground floor in front.  Without warning the elevator tank on the roof fell through all the floors of the building and the building’s exterior walls collapsed, burying the men.  In all, 6 firemen were killed and 11 were injured. 

Those who died were:
MICHAEL H. DONAGHUE, Lieutenant, Chemical –  1
RICHARD DELY, Pipeman of Engine –  9
JOHN PAGEL, Pipeman of Engine –  9
MARTIN BALL, Pipeman of Engine –  9
Fred Bussey –  Volunteer Fireman


Those injured:
FRED DRAHEIM, Engine –  8, badly injured.
E.E. STEVENS, Chemical – 1, badly injured.
MICHAEL C. GRAY, badly hurt about head and body.
PATRICK O’ROURKE, Lieutenant Engine –  8, badly injured.
F.E. STOCKS, Pipeman, Engine – 8
BARTHOLOMEW CRONIN, Pipeman Engine – 8
JOHN B. NEWELL, Truck – 2
HENRY HERIG, Inspector


A March 4th, 1917 fire claimed the lives of 5 Detroit Firefighters.

A March 12th, 1987 warehouse fire claimed the lives of 3 Detroit Firefighters.







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