|Agency||Chicago Fire Department|
|Type of Firefighter||Career|
|Date of Birth||0/0/0|
|Date of Death||8/1/1894|
|Cause of Death||Contact/Exposure|
|Nature of Death||Burns|
|Attribute of Death||[not applicable]|
|Type of Duty||Firefighting operations|
On August 1, 1894, Chicago Fire Department Lieutenant John McGinn of Engine 41 died in the line of duty while fighting a fire in the city’s lumber district.
The fire started around 7PM, possibly caused by a lightning strike, and heavy winds quickly spread flames throughout the lumberyards, which were exceptionally dry due to the lack of rain during the previous six weeks. The fire area stretched for several blocks, from Ashland Avenue in the east to Robey Street in the west, and was bordered by Blue Island Avenue to the north and the Chicago River to the south.
More than sixty fire apparatus, along with two fireboats, responded to the fire, and were successful in protecting residential neighborhoods that were exposed to the flames. Nevertheless, the fire resulted in more than $2 million dollars in commercial property loss.
McGinn, assigned to the fireboat Geyser, was killed as the boat maneuvered through a slip alongside a dock in the Chicago River. When the boat shifted suddenly to avoid a large pile of burning lumber that collapsed, McGinn and two other firefighters were caught in a hose line and swept from the deck of the boat into a bed of hot coals. McGinn was transported to Cook County Hospital, where he died shortly before midnight.
“Big Loss by Fire,” Chicago Daily Tribune, August 2, 1894.
“From the South Side of the Sewer,” Chicago Daily Tribune, August 2, 1894.
“Have a Hard Fight along Slip E,” Chicago Daily Tribune, August 2, 1894.
“Thousands Rush to the Fire,” Chicago Daily Tribune, August 2, 1894.