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 Hammond Indiana
 Our Lady of the Angels Fire
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MrRazz

USA
52 Posts

Posted - 12/01/2013 :  13:23:53  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Today is the 55th anniversary of the Our Lady of the Angels School fire which occurred on Dec 1, 1958 claiming the lives of 92 children and 3 nuns and injuring so many others. Although it didn't happen in the Region, it was not far away in a close knit neighborhood on the west side of Chicago,like many of ours.

I remember coming home from school that day to find my mother ironing and crying uncontrollably as she watched the news on TV. She told me what had happened, and I too watched and cried as this tragedy unfolded. It left a lasting effect on me, as I was the same age as many of the children.

About 3 years ago, I was thinking about the fire and started researching it on the internet and read a couple of books about it. For those of you who are interested, there is a comprehensive website that has been dedicated to this event and is very informative:

http://www.olafire.com/home.asp

If anything good can come out of such a horrific tragedy, our school fire codes and policies were strengthened, and counseling for survivors of such events is now made available and encouraged.

I am sure many of you have similar memories of this tragic event, which took so many innocent lives and forever affected the survivors, families, friends, rescuers, and caregivers of those who were lost or injured and rocked the world...I will be saying a prayer for them today.

Tom J

1192 Posts

Posted - 12/01/2013 :  15:37:55  Show Profile  Visit Tom J's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I distinctly remember the fire. As it did with you, it left a lasting impression on me.

I was nine years old and in the fourth grade at Wallace Elementary School. The picture of a little boy who had died in the fire being carried by a fireman still haunts me to this day. He was about my age.

I have visited that website that you mention but it has been a while.

Tom
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Jay

148 Posts

Posted - 12/01/2013 :  23:30:04  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
This year is also the 55th anniversary of the St. Stanislaus parochial fire in East Chicago Indiana. On Saturday, January 18, 1958, a fire broke out in the 35 year old school during a wedding banquet. The school was built in 1923 for $175,000. As a result of this fire, all elementary school classes were moved to rooms above St. Stanislaus church where we were taught for the next three years until a new school was built.
The photo below was taken from Indianapolis Boulevard, between 149th and 150th, looking southwest.
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MrRazz

USA
52 Posts

Posted - 12/02/2013 :  14:47:01  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Jay

This year is also the 55th anniversary of the St. Stanislaus parochial fire in East Chicago Indiana. On Saturday, January 18, 1958, a fire broke out in the 35 year old school during a wedding banquet. The school was built in 1923 for $175,000. As a result of this fire, all elementary school classes were moved to rooms above St. Stanislaus church where we were taught for the next three years until a new school was built.
The photo below was taken from Indianapolis Boulevard, between 149th and 150th, looking southwest.


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MrRazz

USA
52 Posts

Posted - 12/02/2013 :  15:18:08  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks for the post and the great photo, Jay. I was unaware of this fire in East Chicago. It is interesting that these 2 fires occurred in the same year, both Catholic schools, buildings of similar age and what appears to be similar architecture (I think OLA was built in 1910), and that the schools were not all that far apart. It is so fortunate that the St Stanislaus fire occurred when school was not in session. Were there any injuries or fatalities? Did they ever determine the cause of the St Stanislaus fire? I am sure just losing your school to such a devastating fire was traumatic enough and then to see a fire with so many similarities within the same year claim so many lives...had to weigh heavily on your mind.
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Paddy

USA
141 Posts

Posted - 12/02/2013 :  16:44:59  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
If anything good can come out of such a horrific tragedy, our school fire codes and policies were strengthened, and counseling for survivors of such events is now made available and encouraged.


I was a junior at Bishop Noll when it happened, and I later became a firefighter. When I was the fire chief in Richfield, MN in the 1980's, memories of the tragedy spurred me to require the dozen schools in Richfield to compartmentalize hallways and stairwells or install fire sprinklers throughout. I remember using photos of the OLA fire to convince the schoolboard and parish leaders. When I left Richfield in 1989, eleven of the twelve parochial and public schools has complied.
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Jay

148 Posts

Posted - 12/18/2013 :  19:54:29  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
MrRazz, I posted all the information about St. Stanislaus that I could find on the internet. Unfortunately, since I had just started elementary school around that time, my memories about the details of the fire have faded. But next time I'm in the Calumet Region, I will be doing some library research on a couple of topics. I'll post again with any new information I find.

Edited by - Jay on 12/18/2013 20:00:00
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