The 1983 Buffalo Blast Killed Five Firefighters

This brings me to the night of December 27, 1983. I was a pretty new firefighter. At 20:23 hours, a full assignment was dispatched to North Division & Grosvenor streets. The three engines, two trucks, rescue and 3rd Battalion were responding to a report of a large propane tank leaking in a building. Engine 32 arrived and reported nothing showing, but they were talking to some workmen from the four-story, heavy-timber warehouse (approx. 50' x 100'). Truck 5, Engine 1 and BC Supple arrived right behind E-32.
Thirty-seven seconds after the chief announced his arrival, there was a tremendous explosion. It completely leveled the four-story building. It demolished many buildings on four different blocks. It seriously damaged buildings that were over a half a mile away. The ensuing fireball started buildings burning on a number of streets. A large gothic church on the next block had a huge section ripped out of it as if a great hand carved out the middle.

A ten-story housing projects a couple blocks away had every window broken and some had even more damage. Engine 32 and Truck 5's firehouse, which was a half mile away or so, had all its windows shattered. This is, I'm sad to say, was just the property damage. The explosion killed the five members of Truck 5. Firefighters Mike Austin, Mickey Catanzaro, Red Lickfeld, Tony Waszkielewicz, and Matty Colpoys were killed instantly. Two civilians were also killed, neighbors of the warehouse who were in their living room watching TV. Eleven firefighters were injured. Several, including chief Supple, were critically injured. Over 150 civilians were transported to hospitals for injuries suffered in the explosion. Scores more were treated at the scene.

Firefighters Mike Austin, Mickey Catanzaro, Red Lickfeld, Tony Waszkielewicz, and Matty in peace, Brothers

This is the link to the rest of the artical by buffalo fire commisher

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Comment by Jeff Betz on December 27, 2007 at 8:13pm
It has been quite a while since I read this the last time. Really good stuff from Mr. Lombardo. I thank him for taking the time to write the story for us, it must have been difficult to do. I really appreciate the last paragraph with his suggestions for us all, we need to head his advice. Although the event happened quite some time ago, my heart still goes out to all that were effected. RIP brothers.

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