25th August 1972

Glasgow’s Kilbirnie Street fire kills firefighters

Seven firefighters were killed when tackling a blaze at a cash and carry warehouse in Glasgow’s Port Eglinton. The first crews had arrived within three minutes of receiving a ‘999’ call alerting them to the fire, but by then it was already well underway, and could be seen from outside the building.

Firefighter trapped

As the fire took hold, more and more engines were called for until, eventually, eight pumps and a turntable ladder were on site. The fire fighters were told to evacuate, but one was trapped by stock that had toppled over and collapsed on him.

Colleagues went back into the building to rescue him, but were caught in a flash, which ignited everything around them, and the building started to collapse. All of them lost their lives when the roof fell on them.

Bodies carried out

“The bodies of the firemen were carried out on stretchers, covered by blue tarpaulins, while smoke was still pouring from the three-storey warehouse,” wrote the Liverpool Echo that evening. “The stretchers were carried to ambulances by helmeted firemen while their colleagues on turntable ladders, extended high above the building, were still pouring water on the flames.”

Although the fire was extinguished, the building was so compromised that it was no longer safe. It was demolished and rebuilt.

Warehouse demolished

The following day, the Belfast Telegraph reported that “during the night, the front and side walls of the three storey warehouse were demolished to first floor level, revealing the extent of the destruction… the charred ruins of the lift shaft stood, black and gaunt, against the skyline. Fire officers, investigating the cause of the disaster, surveyed the ruins from a gap high in a gable wall where once there had been a door or a window.”

On 30 August, the Birmingham Daily Post told readers that “every fire brigade in Britain is likely to be represented at the funeral service today in Glasgow Cathedral… the Secretary of State for Scotland, Mr Gordon Campbell, will head the mourners.”



Other events that occured in August

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