12/31/13 198 W - + 12 - 2 Thirty Years Ago - Five Firefighters Killed in Buffalo Propane Explosion

Thirty years ago this week, five members of the Buffalo (NY) Fire Department were killed in a propane explosion on the night of December 27, 1983. Crews had just arrived at a four-story warehouse for a reported gas leak when the blast occurred. Leaking was an illegally stored 500-pound tank. Workers were trying to stop the leak, when the leaking gas found an ignition source.

The explosion leveled the building and destroyed other structures within a four-block radius. The resulting fireball starting fires in buildings on a number of streets. The force of the blast threw a tractor-drawn aerial ladder nearly thirty-five feet into the front of a dwelling.

All five members of Ladder 5 were killed instantly, firefighters Mike Austin, Mickey Catanzaro, Red Lickfeld, Tony Waszkielewicz, and Matty Colpoys. Eleven firefighters were injured in the initial blast, and nineteen more during the rescue efforts due to weather conditions.

Over 150 civilians were transported, with many others treated at the scene. Below are five YouTube clips containing color footage from the incident, including some radio traffic. The incident remains the single greatest loss of life in the department's history. 

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