On Aug. 2, 1978 the Waldbaum’s supermarket on Avenue Y and Ocean Avenue in Brooklyn succumbed to the flames of a raging fire. Nearly 20 firefighters were on the roof of the supermarket when it gave way, dropping 12 members into the flames.
Six were rescued, but another six members died in the tragedy: Lieutenant James Cutillo, 33rd Battalion, and firefighters Harold Hastings, 42 Battalion; James McManus, Ladder 153; George Rice, Ladder 153; Charles Bouton Ladder 156; and William O’Connor, Ladder 156.
The 40th anniversary of the Waldbaum’s Fire was commemorated last week at St. Brendan’s Church in Midwood. Family and friends still gather to remember the six firefighters who died in the infamous Brooklyn fire, including Brian Hastings and Caroline McManus Hastings, two of the 18 children that were left fatherless on that tragic day.