Los Angeles Fire Department
Historical Archive

     Monday,  November 6, 1939
     The Gray Building Fire
     336 South Broadway

In Memory of
Fireman Joseph W. Kacl and Auto Fireman John C. Hough
Truck Company 3

The Grey Building Fire
336 South Broadway
Monday, November 6, 1939

Photo shows Engine 3's Duplex Pump (in cross walk), pumping to Engine 3 (wagon battery in operation).  Lower in the photo is Engine 5 (wagon battery in operation) next to Truck 3.  Note fireman on aerial attempting to operate hose line into fire floor.  Salvage 28 is partially shown in lower right.  Note water cascading across sidewalk from heavy streams being operated into building above.  

Fire started in costume factory, burned for hours

--News photo

housands of white-collar workers watched fire roar through the wooden guts of a loft building in Los Angeles' downtown district the afternoon of Nov. 6.  After a two-hour battle, firemen managed to save adjacent structures, but not before flames had eaten $400,000 and left the building a hallow brick shell.  Lost were books and manuscripts of a printing firm--including the ms. of Ernest Wright's Gadsby, a 50,000 word novel written without the letter "e".  One fireman was killed when presses crashed through crumbling timbers into the basement.  Picture above shows a fireman emerging through clouds of smoke onto the roof.

--Acme photo.

THIS DRAMATIC PICTURE of rescue efforts during the $350,000 Broadway fire late yesterday snapped seconds before a section of wall collapsed covering again the body of fireman Job Kacl, victim of the inferno.  The white streaks in the picture indicate falling debris that warned that the wall was about to fall.  The arrow indicates the body that a moment later was again covered with brick and stone.


Seldom is seen so graphic a picture as this one, which was taken at the moment searchers for the body of Joseph W. Kacl buried in the wreckage of the Gray building, heard the ominous sounds of upper floors giving away.  The tense expression on these firemen's faces indicates their knowledge that imminent danger threatens.  
The photo on the left shows the rescue attempt of Fireman Kacl (arrow).  The photo on the right, taken moments later, shows the effects of the secondary collapse of the building re-burying Kacl. Somewhere in these photos is Auto Fireman John "Red" Hough who is assisting with the rescue of Kacl.  When the wall collapsed Hough was hit across his helmet with a large floor joist.  Hough died from this injury December 11.  
Note the 2 1/2" nozzle with the Metropolitan shut off hanging at the top of the photo.


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