New York City, NY Bathhouse Fire, May 1977
STRANGE FINDINGS IN FATAL FIRE.
New York, (AP) -- Occupants of a midtown bathhouse destroyed by a fire that killed at least nine men tried in vain to put out a mattress fire before they reported the blaze an hour later, according to Fire Commissioner John O'Hagan.
O'Hagan's men found a number of spent fire extinguishers in the once-fashionable Everard Baths, also licensed as a temporary dormitory and frequented by homosexuals. At least a dozen men were injured in the fire.
A sprinkler system had been installed at the baths but was not hooked up to a water supply, O'Hagan told a news conference. He said that the bathhouse had been ordered to install the sprinkler system a year ago, but the deadline for its operation was not until the coming July 27.
Firemen today will look for other possible victims. Officials aid the search could go on for a week. The bathhouse had from 80 to 100 occupants, manyof them overnight visitors, when the blaze broke out shortly after 7 a.m. Wednesday.
Many of the occupants registered under false names, and the city medical examiner said none of the dead had been identified.
"We now have the job of searching 135 cubicles," said O'Hagan, who would not permit his men to look for victims Wednesday night because of fear the building would collapse on them.
The Everard Baths had been a homosexual meeting place for two decades, but in the 1920s, it was considered one of the major Turkish bathhouses in Manhattan.
Built around 1890 by Irish brewer James Everard, it attracted a middle-class and wealthy clientele.
Homosexuals around the city organized Wednesday to donate blood and raise money for the injured. Many criticized the baths as a health hazard and said inspectors permitted fire and safety violations because of the gay clientele.
Others said they hoped the publicity generated by the fire would not cause city officials to harass other homosexual establishments.
The fire spread rapidly through the building, filled with 6 1/2 foot-by-4-foot cubicles separated by only half partitions.
By the time firemen arrived at the scene, on West 28th Steet between Broadway and Sixth Avenue, flames were roaring through two floors and the bathhouse was what one survivor described as "thick smoking hell."
An 18-year-old survivor said he was trapped by smoke on the third floor.
Many occupants ran onto the street wearing only towels. Some were injured jumping from the third floor. About a dozen others were brought down from windows by firemen.
Fire officials said firemen had to hack their way through many windows that had been sealed with sheetrock or asbestos.
The Bee Danville Virginia 1977-05-26
List of the Casualties:
HILLMAN WESLEY ADAMS, 40, South Plains, New Jersey.
AMADO ALAMO, 17, Manhattan.
ANTHONY CALARCO, Bronx.
KENNETH HILL, 38, Manhattan.
BRIAN DUFFY, 30.
PATRICK KNOTT, 38, Manhattan.
IRA LANDAU, 32, Manhattan.
YOSEF SIGNOVEC, 30, Czech.
JAMES CHARLES STUARD, 30, Manhattan.