Fire Service Traditions and History, Firefighting, Structural Firefighting, Survival Zone

A Look Back: St. Louis’s Heyday Shoe Building Fire Turns 44

A report from the St. Louis Dispatch looked back at a major 1976 fire that occurred the vacant Heyday Shoe building at 2032 Locust Street.

The building once housed a maker of women’s wear, but a 1971 fire damaged the seven-story brick structure and left it in the hands of a city agency. The building was vacant with a skeletal interior of heavy timbers and no roof—what one fire official called a “a perfect flue.”

Shortly after 4 p.m. on April 2, 1976, a second fire broke out inside the Heyday, causing extraordinary fire conditions that caused fires broke on rooftops as far as three blocks away. The Heyday collapsed along with a wall of the Housing Authority building, landing on and crushing Pumper 5.

More than 200 St. Louis firefighters and 51 trucks responded to the fire. The report noted that winds were strong enough to knock off the firefighters’ helmets and misdirect hoseline water sprays. Engine Company 5 was also forced to abandon its pumper on 21st Street.

Eight firefighters suffered minor injuries as they fought for three hours to stop fire spread, the report said.

Read the full description of the fire from the St. Louis Dispatch.

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