|Agency||Chicago Fire Department|
|Type of Firefighter||Career|
|Age Range||26 to 30|
|Date of Birth||0/0/0|
|Date of Death||2/7/1968|
|Cause of Death||Struck by object|
|Nature of Death||Trauma|
|Attribute of Death||[not applicable]|
|Type of Duty||Firefighting operations|
On February 7, 1968, a series of explosions tore through a sausage factory and the general offices of the Mickelberry’s Food Products Company. A gasoline tanker truck, on site to fill the company’s gasoline tanks, struck a garbage can while driving through an alley, knocking the valve off of the tanker’s discharge pipe. Gasoline poured out of the tanker, ran through an alley doorway, and into the basement of the sausage plant, where a boiler ignited the gasoline. The burning gasoline soon produced two small explosions that spread the fire and led to a buildup of gasoline fumes, which eventually caused a more powerful third explosion that destroyed the two-story general offices section of the building and demolished a portion of the sausage factory.
Chicago firefighters had just arrived on scene and were rescuing office and factory workers when the third explosion occurred. The explosion threw firefighters from their ladders and factory workers trapped on the roof fell into the rubble. Onlookers were showered with bricks, concrete, plaster, and glass, and windows as far away as three blocks were blown out. The explosion was so powerful that one section of glass block window was launched across the street, where it left an imprint in a brick building.
Following the explosion, the Chicago Fire Department issued a 5-11 alarm that brought 300 firemen to the scene. The massive response was not only due to the severity of the fire, but also because of the number of casualties. Nine individuals, including four firefighters and the Mickelberry’s Company President, were killed and more than seventy people were taken to the hospital. Dozens more with injuries were treated at the scene.
Thomas Powers and Ronald Koziol, “Blast Kills 5, Injures 73,” Chicago Tribune, February 8, 1968.
Harold Remy, “Fireman’s Career Ends in Death,” Chicago Tribune, February 8, 1968.
“Mickelberry Death Toll Goes Up to 8,” Chicago Tribune, February 9, 1968.
“Mickelberry Blast Claims Ninth Fatality,” Chicago Tribune, February 14, 1968.