PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Today marks 30 years since the One Meridian Plaza high-rise fire. Three Philadelphia firefighters died fighting the flames in the office building.
One Meridian remains Philadelphia’s most notorious high-rise fire disaster. Thirty years ago this evening, three firefighters became disoriented by smoke dozens of stories above and across the street from City Hall. They died in the blaze where dozens of fire personnel were also injured, forced to leave the department and find new work.READ MORE: 'A Game Changer': CDC Recommends Johnson & Johnson's 1-Dose COVID Vaccine, Paving Way For Distribution To Begin
“We were part of a search-and-rescue team to try and find them guys and they reported that they were trapped on the 30th floor. So we went to the 30th floor to look for them and it turns out they were on the 28th floor,” retired Philadelphia Fire Battalion Chief Michael Yeager said.
Yeager arrived to the scene when the department struck a fifth alarm, sending hundreds of firefighters to try and get the flames under control.
The fire inside the 500-foot tall building grew to 12 alarms on a Saturday night into Sunday morning.READ MORE: Irv Cross, Former Eagles Star DB And Pioneer Black Analyst, Dies At 81
Firefighters were faced with inordinate challenges — primary and secondary electrical service was out, water supply was severely diminished, elevators and backup generators were dead.
“All the things that changed over the years because of this fire and the fire service, whether it was pressure reducer valves or the electric can’t go up the same pipe chase as the primary electric, the secondary electric,” Yeager said.
At the Philadelphia Firefighters Museum, the deaths of three firefighters advanced building codes and fire suppression requirements in structures like One Meridian.
“Their sacrifice changed how high-rises will be constructed, the safety factors that will be included, and they constructed these in the fire code,” said Fireman’s Hall Museum Philadelphia Curator Brian Anderson said.MORE NEWS: COVID In Philadelphia: City Easing More Restrictions Monday On Road To Recovery
The eventual cause of the fire was determined to be a spontaneous combustion from oily rags.