|Agency||Chicago Fire Department|
|Type of Firefighter||Career|
|Age Range||31 to 35|
|Date of Birth||0/0/0|
|Date of Death||6/16/1941|
|Cause of Death||Contact/Exposure|
|Nature of Death||Asphyxiation|
|Attribute of Death||Smoke inhalation|
|Type of Duty||Firefighting operations , Hose operations|
On June 16, 1941, a fire broke out at the Chicago Mill and Lumber Company, a manufacturer of wooden boxes on North Ogden Avenue. The fire started in bales of paper located on the first floor of the two story brick building. The shooting embers then ignited a fire on the second floor by sparking a mill dust explosion. With the rush from the blast, the flames spread quickly throughout the rest of the building and caused the roof to collapse. Three Chicago firefighters, Norris Coulombe (Engine 42), George Michalski (Engine 3), and Henry Bodenlos (Engine 4), were trapped by the collapse in the burning rubble.
A 5-11 alarm and subsequent special alarm calls had brought 45 pieces of fire apparatus and equipment to the scene on Ogden Avenue. Firefighters had just started hose operations when the roof collapsed, so the firefighter presence within the building was still somewhat limited. Unfortunately, the severity of the explosion prevented firefighters from rescuing their trapped colleagues, and the three trapped firefighters asphyxiated in the burning rubble. Five other firefighters were injured by the explosion.
The total damage of the fire was estimated to be about $75,000. The widows of the fallen firefighters were given support from Mayor Edward Kelly and the Firemen’s Mutual Benefit Association. The three firemen, along with other victims, were later recognized for their heroic efforts in the annual police and fire thrill show held at Soldier’s Field on July 13, 1941.
“3 Firefighters Killed, 5 Hurt in Factory Blaze,” Chicago Daily Tribune, June 17, 1941.
“Launch 2 Probes of Lumber Fire in Which 3 Died,” Chicago Daily Tribune, June 18, 1941.
“Police, Fire Heroes,” Chicago Daily Tribune, July 13, 1941.