I starting scanning old 35mm photos of fires I have been to over the years and came across these.
This is the River North Art Gallery Fire at 361 W. Superior St. on April 15, 1989. This fire was a 5-11 and either one or two specials. I heard Aerial Tower 3 box it, grabbed my camera and headed for the fire. By the time I got downtown the fire was already a 4-11.
Jim Skrabel, Darien-Woodridge F.P.D.
With things in Chicago being fairly slow lately, I thought I would share some images of a historical nature. This would be one of the more memorable fires of the past 50 years. The abandoned 9-story Continental Grain Company Elevator at 32nd Place & Benson Street stood on the east side of the South Branch of the Chicago River. Just after 7:00 pm on May 25, 1966, the structure went up in flames. The fire was elevated to a 5-11 with 4 Specials in under 20 minutes. People old enough to remember this need no description, but for those younger fans, the history of the department is an important thing to bring back into circulation from time to time. The photographer is unknown and the images are part of my personal collection.
Images and a map depicting a 5-11 Alarm fire in Chicago at a cold storage warehouse that occurred 3/17/74.
I just returned from Arkansas. I brought back the rest of my dad’s fire collection and was surprised to find this. 5-11 and 4 Specials at 32nd Place & Bensen in Chicago. I remember dad took this in while I was at school, and I hadn’t seen this photo for many years. I believe the Snorkel setting up may have been SS-1. Most of the shots of this fire I have seen are black & white.
I returned from Arkansas with a lot of my dad’s collection. One of the things he had displayed on his wall was a series of 3 x 5 color prints from a 5-11 he and I were at in 1974. This was a cold storage warehouse and I recall it burned for days. I also remember at some point the building collapsed onto an adjacent structure causing the transmission of another extra alarm. We took it in well after the initial alarm and toured the fireground getting these shots of some classic rigs in action. The image with Big John in the background is probably one of the few images you will see with both guns working. Most times they couldn’t muster up the water supply to use both. Also note the 2000-GPM LaFrances often used both ports on the hydrant. They had an order that no other pumper was to share a hydrant with a 2,000-gallon rig, thus giving them the ability to use both steamer ports.
These photos were in horrendous condition … colors way off and faded. I was surprised at how much of the damaged images I was able to restore. They are far from perfect but at least they are now useable. I bet if I made them B&W they would be near perfect. Enjoy the history.
My father, Fred Fredericks, was a Chicago firefighter from the late 1950s until his retirement in 1986. He was stationed at 10 W. Hubbard, 81st and Ashland, and Midway Airport. He passed away this fall, and my siblings and I found the attached picture while going through his belongings.
This picture shows my father putting water on a fire, in the winter of a year in the late 50s or early 60s, we believe.
We thought that visitors to your blog might find it interesting, and might possibly remember some specifics about this fire.
Thank you for your interest.
-Paul Fredericks, Plainfield, IL