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Cocoanut Grove Fire

By | November 2012
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Fire Synopsis:
Cocoanut Grove
November 28th, 1942 in Boston Massachusetts, a fire erupted from the Cocoanut Grove nightclub. The blaze resulted in 492 deaths, 166 injuries, became the greatest nightclub fire in the nation’s history and became the second greatest, single building fire. A plethora of poor decisions and bad judgment calls contributed to the high death and injury tolls. In today’s society many of the things that contributed to the horrific scene would have been cited by an inspector and deemed as infractions that would have been addressed and, more than likely, would have had them rectified before they could open their doors to the public. Since then, a whole new world has been created, solely devoted to the health and wellbeing of the public and the workforce. For now, let us reflect on what happened and how the fire began (Reilly, 1943).

Records say that the fire originated in the Melody Lounge, located in the basement directly under the Foyer. Flames were seen in the cloth that hung from the ceiling and a palm tree located in the northwest corner of the room, near the stairway to the upstairs. The fire then proceeded to the upstairs into the Foyer and the Caricature Bar. From here the fire spread to the Main Dining Hall and finally into the Broadway Lounge. In only two to four minutes the fire had spread from the basement to street level. Patrons running from the blaze described the flames as a “ball of fire” (Reilly, 1943) as it raced across the ceiling. Others had to use their coats to cover their heads as they ran up the stairs from the Melody Lounge to the lobby, just to keep from catching their hair on fire. Those at street level described a horrible scene of people racing up the stairs with their hair aflame trying to get away from the acrid, black smoke that followed. People that managed to get outside, watched as those still inside reached the exits and collapsed from being overcome by the smoke and other latent gases. They watched as...
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