Jacksonville, FL Hotel Roosevelt Fire, Dec 1963
21 PERISH IN JAX HOTEL FIRE, 66 OTHERS INJURED
Cause of Blaze Is Undetermined.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) - Ashes and blackened debris in the Hotel Roosevelt's once grand ballroom held the secret today to the the [sic] cause of a fire which left 21 dead and 66 injured.
Flames burst out Sunday morning in or around the main floor ballroom, spewing heavy smoke and deadly gases upward through the 12-story, 300 room hotel, packed with nearly 500 Gator Bowl weekend guests.
Nineteen victims were asphyxiated by smoke and fumes.
Sudden disaster struck on a brisk, calm Sunday morning, handing Jacksonville its worst tragedy in history.
One woman died in a plunge from an upper story window. An assistant fire chief died of a heart attack.
Only the cool efficiency of firemen and dramatic rescues by Navy helicopters of guests who fled to the roof averted a worse tragedy.
The fashionable hotel on Adams Street near Main street was packed with guests, many here for Gator Bowl week festivities which ended Saturday night.
Most deaths occurred above the eighth floor, agonizingly out of reach of the city's two 100-foot aerial ladder trucks.
Among those rescued were Miss America of 1964, DONNA AXUM of El Dorado, Ark. The 21-year-old beauty and her chaperone, LUCILE PREVITI, were hospitalized overnight, suffering with smoke inhalation.
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