Dozens Remember Fallen Palatine Firefighters at Memorial Saturday

Volunteer firefighters John Wilson, 40, Warren Ahlgrim, 32, and Richard Freeman, 25, all died of smoke inhalation while battling a blaze at Palatine's downtown Ben Franklin store in 1973.

Dozens of current and retired area firefighters gathered Saturday at the Palatine Firefighters Memorial to remember three firefighters who lost their lives battling a blaze at a Ben Franklin store in downtown Palatine on Feb. 23, 1973, according to local media reports. 

Around 200 people showed up to the memorial event Saturday, according to the Daily Herald. 

The fire at the Ben Franklin store — located on the west side of Brockway Street just north of Slade Street — broke out in the early morning hours of Friday, February 23, 1973 and quickly spread throughout the building.

Volunteer firefighter and owner of the Ben Franklin store John Wilson, 40; and volunteer firefighters Warren Ahlgrim, 32, and Richard Freeman, 25, all died from smoke inhalation as they fought the fire in the basement of the building.

The original Snorkel fire truck used by volunteer firefighters on February 23, 1973 was transported by Plote Construction company to Palatine and was a part of the ceremony. 

The ceremony included a formal Palatine Fire Department procession, their honor guard, a wreath laying and three rings to the memorial bell to honor the lives of the three fallen firefighters.

For a more in-depth history of the event and Palatine residents who experienced it, click here to read the article by the Daily Herald. 

Information provided by the Palatine Fire Department and Then & Now, Palatine, Illinois. 


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