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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Today marks 30 years since the One Meridian Plaza high-rise fire. Three Philadelphia firefighters died fighting the flames in the office building.

One Meridian remains Philadelphia’s most notorious high-rise fire disaster. Thirty years ago this evening, three firefighters became disoriented by smoke dozens of stories above and across the street from City Hall.

They died in the blaze where dozens of fire personnel were also injured, forced to leave the department and find new work.

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“We were part of a search-and-rescue team to try and find them guys and they reported that they were trapped on the 30th floor. So we went to the 30th floor to look for them and it turns out they were on the 28th floor,” retired Philadelphia Fire Battalion Chief Michael Yeager said.

Yeager arrived to the scene when the department struck a fifth alarm, sending hundreds of firefighters to try and get the flames under control.

The fire inside the 500-foot tall building grew to 12 alarms on a Saturday night into Sunday morning.

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Firefighters were faced with inordinate challenges — primary and secondary electrical service was out, water supply was severely diminished, elevators and backup generators were dead.

“All the things that changed over the years because of this fire and the fire service, whether it was pressure reducer valves or the electric can’t go up the same pipe chase as the primary electric, the secondary electric,” Yeager said.

At the Philadelphia Firefighters Museum, the deaths of three firefighters advanced building codes and fire suppression requirements in structures like One Meridian.

“Their sacrifice changed how high-rises will be constructed, the safety factors that will be included, and they constructed these in the fire code,” said Fireman’s Hall Museum Philadelphia Curator Brian Anderson said.

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The eventual cause of the fire was determined to be a spontaneous combustion from oily rags.

News Source: cbslocal.com

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Job growth surges in February above expectations

Hiring surged in February as the U.S. economic activity picked up amid a progressive drop in Covid-19 cases and vaccines provided hope of more growth ahead.

The Labor Department on Friday reported that nonfarm payrolls jumped by 379,000 for the month and the unemployment rate fell to 6.2%. That compared to expectations of 210,000 new jobs and the unemployment rate to hold steady from the 6.3% rate in January.

Employment growth had flattened over the past two months amid a rise in cases and renewed government-imposed shutdowns over the winter. Still, most economic indicators continued to rise, and first-quarter GDP growth is expected to defy previous expectations for a flat or only slightly better environment.

Federal Reserve officials have been watching the jobs numbers closely not only for overall growth in payrolls and a drop in the unemployment rate but also for the breadth of the jobs recovery. The central bank has pledged not to raise interest rates until it sees the gains spread across income, gender and racial lines, even if that means risking higher inflation.

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell reiterated that stance Thursday, saying he doesn't foresee the U.S. economy hitting the central bank's goals anytime this year.

Despite the February gain, the jobs market still has a long way to heal, with millions of workers displaced by the pandemic still looking for employment. Recent indicators show that job postings are continuing to increase, but still at a rate well below what is needed for a full recovery.

This is breaking news. Please check back here for updates.

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