Memorial Monday – Butte Warehouse Explosion

Memorial Monday

Incident Date: January 15, 1895
Department: Butte Fire Department (MT)
Number of Line-of-Duty Deaths: 13

Thirteen Butte firefighters, three fire horses, one police officer, eight children, and dozens of citizens died in a in a series of explosions in Butte, Montana, on January 15, 1895. An unattended stove was thought to have started the fire which ultimately caused the explosions that destroyed four warehouses and a freight depot. What was thought to be an entire boxcar full of dynamite (20 tons) was being stored in the warehouse.

All but three firefighters were killed. Firefighter Dave McGee, who was at the hydrant during the initial explosion, survived after being pinned between two fire horses during the initial blast. Firefighter Jack Flannery and Fred Dugdale also survived the explosions. Jim, the fire horse, also survived the incident and went on to train new horses for the department until the adoption of motorized apparatus.

The fallen firefighters received full military honors during the town-wide funeral that brought over 25,000, and firefighters came from all over the State of Montana.

Butte Historical Memorials Living History – Tuesday and Friday at 7:00 pm (MT) from January 15 – February 2, 2021

Butte Historical Memorials continues to commemorate the Anniversary of the disaster on January 15th of each year. However, the Covid conditions of this past year posed a few issues for large gatherings so it was decided to produce a “virtual story” with background photographs and individual narrations portraying the tragedy through the eyes of characters of the event. Six ten-minute Episodes were developed capturing twelve stories of the disaster. They will be released alternately on Tuesday and Friday evenings at 7:00 pm from January 15 – February 2, 2021 on our Butte Historical Memorial’s Facebook and YouTube pages.

Killed in the Explosion



More About Memorial Monday

Memorial Monday is established to remember the sacrifice of firefighters who died in the line of duty before the National Memorial was created in 1981. On the last Monday of every month, a firefighter, or groups of firefighters, will be remembered through information located about the firefighter and their sacrifice.