In the early morning hours of December 22, 1910, an electrical fire broke out in a refrigerated warehouse at the Nelson Morris and Company facility in Chicago, IL. Over 50 engine companies responded to the incident, but because the city’s fire hydrants were shut off for the winter to prevent freezing, the blaze quickly spread out of control. The warehouse collapsed in the direction of the firefighters, burying dozens in the rubble and flames. Lieutenant James Fitzgerald, along with twenty-two other firefighters, were killed by the falling debris.
This firefighter line of duty fatality occurred before the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial was built in Emmitsburg, Maryland. While this firefighter has not been officially honored at the Memorial site, there are plans to do so when resources are available.