On July 12, 1973, a fire was raging in the National Archives at St. Louis. It burned uncontrolled for more than 22 hours and was fought for 5 days.

Forty years later, we are still grateful for the work the firefighters did in fighting this massive fire.

The Military Personal Records Center was 1,596,332 square feet, second only to the Pentagon in size at the time.It had no sprinklers or firewalls.

Forty-two different fire departments from the surrounding area responded, providing 381 men on duty, 5747.5 on-duty hours, and uncounted additional volunteer and off-duty service. Several firemen would be taken to local hospitals, treated for smoke inhalation, broken bones, or puncture wounds.

For the full story and a timeline of the fire, go today’s Pieces of History blog post.

The images are from the National Archives at St. Louis, with a special thank you to Capt. Dave Dubowski of the Spanish Lake Fire Department and Chief Bob Palmer [ret.] of Mehlville Fire Department.