Five members of the Columbus Fire Division died Feb. 19, 1936 when a wall collapsed at a fire at the Odd Fellows Temple - one of the largest losses of firefighters in Ohio history.
- Herbert Harrington, firefighter, Squad 1
- Otto Ignatze, captain, Pump 3
- Harry McFadden, firefighter, Truck 1
- Oliver Metzger, firefighter, Squad 1
- Robert Welsh, captain, Squad 1
The building was located on the corner of High and Rich streets.
On Feb. 19, 2012, the Columbus Dispatch published the following recollection:
Five Columbus firefighters died, and seven others were injured on Feb. 19, 1936, when the rear wall of a four-story Downtown lodge hall collapsed during an early morning fire.
The Independent Order of Odd Fellows hall, which stood where Columbus Commons now is on S. High Street, was one of the oldest office buildings in the city, having been built in 1868.
Decayed mortar between the bricks of the building’s west wall was blamed for the tragedy.
At least eight firefighters were on a fire escape when the wall gave way, plunging some to their deaths and injuring others.
Firefighter Earl Ruhl said he was on the third floor when “Lt. McFadden and others in his company told me to go down and warm up. I went down the fire escape and a ladder, and before I knew what happened, I heard timbers crashing and felt bricks hitting my back.”
Lt. Harry McFadden, 36, had been injured fighting the fire but ignored advice to go to a hospital.
“He returned to the blaze after preliminary treatment just in time to be crushed under the wall,” The Dispatch reported.
McFadden was killed.
Firefighters used torches to rescue survivors from a tangle of steel beams, bricks and debris.
The front of the building was coated in a 6-inch sheet of ice, as the water from firefighters’ hoses froze in frigid weather.