You know what the worst is. Next on the list—in terms of loss of firefighter life, that is—comes the 23rd Street Fire in 1966, which killed 12 firefighters.
Unable to make their way to the source of the flames, firefighters went around the block to 23rd Street to try to enter through a building that shared the cellar.
Firefighters didn’t know that after a renovation, a wall in the shared cellar had been moved, weakening the floor. The entire first floor soon collapsed into the basement inferno, killing 10 firefighters. Two more died in another part of the building.
The city was astounded and distraught. Days later, 10,000 firefighters flanked Fifth Avenue as fire trucks carried coffins to St. Thomas Episcopal Church and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. (Above photo: FDNY. Below: The New York Times)
The site is now home to a high-rise apartment house, just across from Madison Square Park. A small plaque honors the men who lost their lives there 43 years ago.
Tags: 1966 New York City fire, 23rd Street Fire, deadly fires in New York City history, FDNY, Madison Square Park, New York City in the 1960s, St. Patrick's Cathedral, St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Wonder Drugs fire