Fire Buffs promote the general welfare of the fire and rescue service and protect its heritage and history. Famous Fire Buffs through the years include New York Fire Surgeon Harry Archer, Boston Pops Conductor Arthur Fiedler, New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia and - legend has it - President George Washington.

Friday, July 24, 2015


Scenes from 1959 Pentagon fire: Smoke pushing from basement; Capt. Charles Theodore and a soot-covered Capt. Leon Dodson Sr. , with Theodore carrying an MSA breathing apparatus.

To the Editor:

I read with great interest, the article about the fire at the Pentagon which took place July 2nd 1959.  Link to article

I was surprised to read that "miraculously, no one perished", because in fact, my grandfather Horace L. Woodward Sr. died at his home, at 1611 Army Navy Drive, as a result of smoke inhalation from the fire.

He was at the Pentagon when the fire occurred and helped many people out of the building, after which he left the scene and went home where he then collapsed.

My grandmother, Olga Woodward, then called their doctor, who, after examining him gave him an injection of something (possibly digitalis?) which caused my grandfather to awaken and exclaim, "What are you doing to me?"

He then collapsed and died. Perhaps he would have survived, had he stayed at the scene and been treated by the medics there, or if he had died there he would have been rightfully counted as the lone casualty of the fire.

I was only seven years old at the time, and our family lived far away in New Jersey.

I've always considered my grandfather to be a hero for the way he helped others without concern for his own safety.


Niel C. Woodward