06/05/09 246 W, 1 I - + 14 - 6 Remembering the Shelby Fire that Claimed Four Firefighters

May 25, 2018

Please see this Legeros Fire Blog posting, with working links and slightly higher resolution image:  https://legeros.com/blog/four-shelby-firefighters-killed-in-gas-explosion-may-25-1979/

Found via FireNews, the Shelby Star has published a retrospective of the fire that killed four firefighters on May 25, 1979. It started as a smoke investigation, with an apparently routine fire in the rear of a clothing store. About thirty minute later, an explosion ripped through the downtown structure. Four Shelby firefighters and a civilian city employee were killed. Another 12 firefighters were injured. Mutual aid from 10 departments brought over 230 firefighters to the scene. Within hours, the entire block was lost. The $5 million fire was determined as arson, and the store owner was sent to prison. The fallen were buried on Sunday, May 27, and hundreds of residents attended the memorial service.

Read the Shelby Star retrospective. Or read an earlier article about the fire on FireNews, part of a feature on the histories of North Carolina's fallen firefighters. It features photos by Lem Lynch, who was present at the time of the explosion. Only one other time in the state's history have four firefighters died in the line of duty. On September 7, 1982, an early-morning fire at a textile plant in Washington killed four members of the National Spinning Company fire brigade. Read about that incident also, either via the FireNews article, or a version on our history site.  

Lem Lynch photos


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