PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — One hundred years ago this winter, a devastating fire at a Philadelphia leather goods company near 3rd and Girard took the lives of 13 firefighters and one Philadelphia police officer.
Now, Philadelphia officials are hoping to locate family members of those who died, hoping the families will be able to attend the dedication of a memorial commemorating the worst loss of life in the history of the city’s fire service.
The fire, on December 21st and 22nd, 1910, destroyed the Freidlander Leather Remnants Company on North Bodine Street, in what is now Northern Liberties.
Philadelphia fire commissioner Lloyd Ayers says they know it is a challenge but they hope to locate family members of those who perished so they can attend:
“We have some diligent researchers out there, and hopefully we can reach as many families as possible and do whatever we have to do to get them there.”
Most of the firefighters perished when a wall collapsed on them as they tried to rescue trapped colleagues.
Jerry Kots is a trustee of Philadelphia firefighters’ union Local 22:
“One member had seven children. He lost his wife 15 months before this accident. The seven children were between the ages of two and ten.”
That member was hoseman Harry Bertolet, who lived in the 1000 block of North Randolph Street.
The memorial is planned for Wednesday, December 8th, in front of what is now Darling’s Diner, at 3rd Street and Germantown Avenue.
Reported by Michelle Durham, KYW Newsradio.
Here is the roster of those who died (graphic below courtesy of Philadelphia Fire Museum):
— Hoseman Harry Bertolet, 1002 N. Randolph Street
— Ladderman William Bihlmire, 735 N. 21st Street
— Ladderman John Carrol, 1325 Brandywine Street
— Ladderman John Collins, 4519 Fairmount Avenue
— Hoseman Charles Edelman, 1113 Earle Street
— Assistant Foreman Thomas Entwistle, 941 New Market Street
— Ladderman Samuel Parks, 240 Sharswood Street
— Assistant Forman J. Fredrick Kalberger, 433 Norris Street
— Ladderman George Matchinsky, 1123 Olive Street
— Hoseman William McConnell, 2133 N. Fairhill Street
— Hoseman Thomas Pass, 1335 Palmer Street
— Hoseman Robert Stewart, 2240 N. Hope Street
— Forman Gustav Wittig, 1761 N. 3rd Street
— Patrolman Morris Gelles, 860 N. Franklin Street