Westfield, MA Apartment Fire, Jan 1952
14 BELIEVED FIRE VICTIMS AT WESTFIELD.
Apartment-Business Block Swept by Flames.
Westfield, Jan. 7 (AP) -- Fourteen persons, and possibly 16, were believed today to have perished in an apartment-business block fire amid screams for help heard more than three blocks distant.
Police and Red Cross officials said as far as they have been able to determine 14 were at home at the time of the fire and did not get out in time.
Two others were said to be in a fifth-floor bowling alley but police weren't able to verify that up to an early hour today.
All five floors collapsed into the cellar in a tangled mass of burning wreckage that firemen found impossible to probe immediately.
Fourteen other persons were injured, 12 serious enough to be kept at Noble hospital. The other two were discharged after treatment.
Fire Chief JEREMIAH A. MORIARTY estimated property damage at "more than $1,000,000."
One of the walls collapsed at the height of the blaze and crashed through the roof of an adjoining one-story block of stores.
Acts of Heroism.
Fire Chief MORIARTY said there would have been many more casualties had it not been for the heroism of several firemen, policemen and onlookers who disregarded personal safety to carry tenants down fire escapes and ladders.
ROBERT L. GREANEY, a Navyman on leave, CHESTER DAWICKI, an Air Force man also on leave, and MINGO GRUNERIO, were credited with saving five persons who were on the point of collapse when reached.
GREANEY later reentered the building but was forced back when flames burned the coat off his back and singed his hair.
He said that as he left the building the second time he could hear a woman shouting, "Help me, I'm burning."
DR. HAROLD BEATTIE said he heard the anguished screams for help from his home three blocks away.
An elderly couple, dressed only in nightclothers, nearly collapsed on the street while waiting for help. Onlookers took off their own shoes and overcoats to protect the couple from the freezing cold.
Ladder Too Short.
WILLIAM BALTRUM, proprietor of the Colonial Inn at the rear of the building, said the structure seemed to be smoking at first and then a "great puff of flames" broke out on the third and fourth floors.
He said he saw firemen try to rescue a woman trapped at a fourth-floor window but the ladder was too short. She was rescued, he said, even as flames licked at ther back when firemen clambered to an adjoining roof and then extended a ladder from there.
JERRY MURPHY, who recently came here from Ireland, carried two women down a fire escape -- one on each shoulder.
Police and Red Cross officials said the following were missing in the fire:
a MRS. FINNING.
a MRS. LARRABEE.
CHRISTINE BROUGHTON, a seven-year-old child.
MRS. RITA SMITHIES.
a MR. and MRS. BOYLE.
and a MR. BRISSETTE.
The two believed to be in the bowling alleys were not identified. The ages of the missing or any other data about them was not immediately available.
Held at Noble hospital were:
MR. and MRS. ALBERT BAKER, both 51.
JOHN ISBELL, 83, and his wife, MARJORIE, 72.
ARDELLE WALKER, 47.
HENRY BARBER, 77, and his wife, EDNA, 72.
GEORGIANNA WELCOME, 67, and her son, FRANCIS.
LOUIS SILBA, 65.
MRS. ELLA M. COOMBS, 60.
MRS. MARY WHITE.
Treated at the hospital and discharged were ORA KILES and MRS. ANNIE BINDER.
Among those found to have taken refuge in private homes were:
MRS. GERALDINE THIEM, BARBARA THIEM, MRS. HILDA CARROLL, MR and MRS. STEPHEN HANSEN, MRS. JULIA MODZELEWSKI, IDA DONOVAN, MRS. MINERVA SMITH, DR. EDMUND PISZCZEK, MRS. HAZEL SENECAL and MELVILLE HERRICK.
The Lowell Sun Massashusetts 1952-01-07