At 2:35 PM on Saturday, June 17, 1972, Box 1571 was received at Boston Fire Alarm. It would be the first of four alarms required to extinguish a raging fire at the former Hotel Vendome on Commonwealth Avenue at Dartmouth Street. It took nearly three hours to stop the blaze. Apparatus at the scene included 16 fire engines, 5 ladders, 2 aerial towers and 1 heavy rescue. All apparatus had full crews.
Once the fire was out, the BFD commenced a routine overhaul operation. Then, at 5:28 PM, without warning, the southeast section of the building collapsed.
More than any other event in the three hundred year history of the Boston Fire Department, the Vendome tragedy exemplifies the risk intrinsic to the firefighting profession and the accompanying courage required in the performance of duty. Nine firefighters were killed on that day, eight more injured; eight women widowed, twenty-five children lost their fathers; a shocked city mourned before the sympathetic eyes of the entire nation.
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