On October 17, 1966, 12 FDNY firefighters died when the floor collapsed as they were fighting a fire in a building on 23 St. Until September 11, 2001, this incident marked the heaviest loss of life in the history of the FDNY.
The men of Engine 18 were pulling a hoseline into the Wonder Drug store, which was in back of the burning building. The commander who had ordered the men into the building, Deputy Chief Thomas A. Reilly, and 11 other firefighters died when the floor collapsed. An inquiry later revealed that a cellar wall had been moved, leaving the drugstore’s floor unsupported.
A first-person account of this tragic incident was written by FDNY Firefighter Joseph D’ Albert. The article, entitled BOX 598, was published in W.N.Y.F. 1973 2nd Issue. It is presented here with permission of W.N.Y.F.
To read Joseph D’ Albert’s account of the 23rd. St. fire, click HERE.