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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Major American Fires: Introduction and general information

This is a guide to resources at the Illinois Fire Service Institute Library and online that discuss major American fires.

General Resources

IFSI Library Lending Policies

Local Lending (Illinois Residents Only)

  • The checkout period is 4 weeks.
  • Extensions are considered individually.
  • Pick up requested materials at the library circulation desk.
  • Bring your photo ID to set up a lending account.

Interlibrary Loan (ILL)

  • The checkout period is 6 weeks.
  • IFSI can send materials directly to your local public library through Interlibrary Loan.
  • You must have a public library card.
  • It may take up to two weeks for items to arrive.

Search Our Catalog Here

Major American Fires

Photo by John McColgan, fire behavior analyst at the U.S. Forest Service

This guide was produced by the Illinois Fire Service Institute (IFSI) library to bring together resources about major American fires. These include books and audiovisual material available at the IFSI Library as well as freely available online material, including articles, websites, and videos. The primary audience of this guide is fire fighters and emergency responders, but students and members of the public with an interest in American history might also find this guide useful. Each tab of this guide contains information about a different fire.

IFSI Library

The IFSI Library houses more than 65,000 items, including books, periodicals, manuals, codes and standards, DVDs, CDs, e-resources, audiobooks and other fire emergency resources. The library exists to serve all first responders in the state of Illinois. Users can request materials in-person, via telephone or email, or through the Online Catalog. The catalog may be searched keyword, title, author, subject, or publisher, and the search can be limited to specific formats. You may enter as many or as few search terms as you would like; the more search parameters the fewer results there will be, but those results will be more specific. You can visit us in person, or, if you live in the state of Illinois and have an Illinois library card, we can send the materials you want to your local library via interlibrary loan.

Deadliest U.S. Public Assembly and Nightclub Fires

Building City Date Deaths
Iroquois Theater Chicago, IL 12/30/1903 602
Cocoanut Grove Nightclub Boston, MA 11/28/1942 492
Conway's Theater (Brooklyn Theater) Brooklyn, NY 12/05/1876 285
Rhythm Club Natchez, MS 04/23/1940 207
Rhoads Opera House Boyertown, PA 01/13/1908 170
Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus Hartford, CT 07/06/1944 168
Beverly Hills Supper Club Southgate, KY 05/28/1977 165
Station Nightclub West Warwick, RI 02/20/2003 100
Happy Land Social Club Bronx, NY 03/25/1990 87
Richmond Theater Richmond, VA 12/26/1811 72

Statistics from the NFPA.

IFSI Library Information

Library Hours:

8:00 am - 5:00 pm

Monday - Friday

Special operating hours may be held during events.

IFSI Library Website


IFSI Library Staff:

Lian Ruan, Head Librarian:

Diane Richardson, Reference & User Training Librarian:

David Ehrenhart, Archivist and Metadata Librarian:

Libguide created by Elizabeth York