Atlanta Security Solutions News Blog
The Winecoff hotel fire remains, to this day, the deadliest hotel fire in U.S. history. The hotel was at capacity on that tragic night, with 360 guests staying. The fire claimed the lives of 119 people, and over 100 people were injured. This catastrophic fire was the wake-up call for our nation and led states all over the country to enact stricter fire codes that were later able to be enacted into law.
There are many speculations as to how the third floor fire started. One possible cause of the fire is a dropped cigarette, but there are eye-witness accounts that contradict that as well. A man staying on the third floor claimed to hear someone racing down the hallway shortly before the fire was reported. Other guests heard fighting in room 303 shortly before the fire was started. There was a man kicked out of the hotel that was visiting guests on the fifth floor earlier that evening, and there were several false fire alarms for the hotel earlier in the evening. All of these strange events seem to indicate that the fire may not have been an accident..
Had the “fireproof” building been equipped with the proper safety precautions (i.e.: fire alarms, fire doors, or sprinklers) the fire may not have spread as quickly as it did, and guests would have been notified earlier about the need to evacuate. As it was guests were not notified until after hotel staff was notified, and the fire department was already on the scene. One of the main contributors to the fire was the lack of fire breaks in the building. The staircase was open to the 16th floor. From the third floor down there was a single staircase and a solitary elevator providing an egress route. The elevator operator was one of the first people out of the building, as she was the one who notified management about the fire. She then took the elevator to the basement of the building and ran up the stairs yelling there was a fire, before she exited the building. This left a single open-air staircase as the only egress route for the guests, a staircase that was quickly consumed with flames. It also acted like a chimney for the fire, allowing it to spread quickly to the upper levels.
This fire, which took place in the heart of Atlanta, changed the way that our entire country looks at fire safety in commercial buildings. It is a part of our local history, and a reminder why we have building codes. We offer a variety of services for commercial establishments and are well versed in local regulations. Contact us today to see what services we can provide for your business.
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