February 7, 1968 – Nine people are killed when a fire and explosion completely wrecks the offices of Mickelberry’s Food Procucts Company at 301 West Forty-Ninth Place. The conflagration apparently begins when a Harrigan Oil Company gasoline truck moving through the alley behind the plant scrapes a steel garbage container, knocking the shut-off valve from the truck’s discharge pipe and sending gasoline into the basement of the plant where the boiler ignites it. Fire fighters on the roof of the building are in the process of removing 15 to 20 employees of the plant from that location when a tremendous explosion rips the building, toppling ladders and fire fighters and sending those on the roof through the air. More than 30 of the 79 people who are injured are neighborhood kids who hear the sirens and come running to see the excitement. The 9-11 alarm fire brings to the scene 26 engines, five hook and ladder trucks, three snorkels, five rescue squads, ten ambulances, and seven hazardous chemical units. Tragically, four fire fighters from Truck 18 are killed – Firemen Edward Keifker, Chales Bottger, Thomas Collins, and Captain John J. Fisher, Sr.
Also on this date from an earlier blog entry . . .
February 7, 1943 -- The sky falls when Michael "Hinky Dink" Kenna misses his first Sunday afternoon pre-election meeting of the First Ward Democratic club in 46 years. The 5' 1" Kenna, who, along with "Bathhouse" John Coughlin, ran the most notoriously wicked, graft-driven ward in the city, controlled "The Levee" for another three years until his death at 89 in October of 1946. John Budinger, who had been chosen to replace Kenna on the City Council said of the "empty chair" at the meeting, "When our leader called me in and told me I had the privilege of being his candidate for alderman, it was the grandest thrill that ever happened to me." Chief Bailiff Albert J. Horan assured Budinger that he would have no trouble winning the seat, one way or another. He said, "We are not afraid of cries of investigation, for we are as open as babes in their mother's arms."