Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Winecoff Fire

Thursday marks the 60th anniversary of the deadliest hotel fire in US history. In the wee, small hours of December 7, 1946, a fire broke out in Atlanta's Hotel Winecoff and quickly shot up through the then-towering (for Atlanta) height of 15 stories.

The newspaper headline had the body count off by one - "only" 119 people died in the horrific fire, including a group of best-and-brightest teens in town to participate in a mock legislature at the Georgia State Capitol.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution had a good story in Sunday's paper about a reunion of some of the survivors and firemen who saved them.

A Georgia Tech grad student, Arnold Hardy, became the first amateur to win the Pulitzer Prize. With his last flashbulb he caught a disturbing shot of a woman jumping from a window. See the photo and read how Hardy got the shot here.

Like the Titanic, the Winecoff's self-promotion was a study in hubris. The hotel was billed, after all, as completely fireproof. (Note to self: Never stay at, sail on, ride in, or otherwise come anywhere close to anything promising to be indestructible. That sort of thing always gets a big "Ya' think so?" from God.)

So remember, the next time you stay in a hotel and see those little sprinkler things and fire escape maps on the door, you have the doomed Hotel Winecoff to thank for those little safety features.

1 comment:

Liz said...

The Towering Inferno still scares me. Fire is so uncontrolled and uncontrollable.