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Montreal, QB Nightclub Fire, Sept 1972



Montreal -- Police say that three young men who were angry after being turned away from a crowded downtown nightclub Friday night may have started a fire which killed 42 people in the bar.
Flames engulfed the Blue Bird Cafe, crowded with more than 200 patrons listening to live country and western music shortly after a "ball of fire" exploded in the main entrance of the second storey club.
"It was either a Molotov cocktail or gasoline spread on the stairs and then ignited," Montreal Police Inspector Armand Chaille told the Free Press early today.
Four young men are being held at police headquarters following the fire disaster, the worst in Montreal since 1927, when 77 people perished in a theatre blaze.
"We've got witnesses who saw the way the fire started, and I expect, right now, that we will be able to tell the newspapers within 48 hours exactly how the tragedy occurred," said Insp. Chaille.
He said four men were turned away from the club shortly before the fire started about 10 p.m. EDT.
Most of the victims who died in the smoke and panic were huddled and crushed in corners of the second-storey bar. "There was lots of pitch black smoke and then a lot of heat and a lot of yellow light ... We knew it was a fire. Everyone began to panic," said George Lancia, a survivor.
When the main staircase was englufed in flames, patrons rushed to an emergency exit. "There were so many people on the fire escape that the railing broke," said Mr. Lancia.
Many survivors escaped the disaster scene by jumping from windows to the street below. One police officer said the whole place was in flames in about two or three minutes.
Mr. and Mrs. James Robson said they were waiting to get into the upper bar, located over a ground floor cocktail lounge, when they spotted a ball of fire behind them and a man running down the stairs.
"We tried to run after the man, but there was a wall of fire that kept us from following," Mrs. Robson said. She said they scrambled down the fire escape and "when we got outside the flames had spread so fast they had trapped I don't know how many girls in the women's washroom."
Three bodies were found in one of the washrooms and another 15 of the dead were found huddled in a corner that had no exit according to police. Another 24 were jammed in a rear section of the club near the bar and close to a back entrance.
Sam Dugay, 23, said he was standing talking to the Blue Bird dorman when "a big column of black smoke and flames shot up the stairway."
George Lancia, who was in the club, said "everyone began to panic."
"There was lots of pitch black smoke, then a lot of heat and then a lot of yellow light ... We knew it was a fire and everyone began to panic."
"There were so many people on the fire escape that the railing broke. People were falling from the sky almost."
"I tried to help people come out of the front windows, but they just panicked and were falling out."
One 20-year-old woman said the fire went through the whole building in no time at all.
"People were screaming, falling, being stepped on. By the time I got out the whole building was burning and there were still people inside."
One witness said three men apparently had been thrown out of the club shortly before the explosion.
Police said the fire bombs were thrown into a stairwell at the front of the building which links the two club levels.

Continued on Page 2.


the Blue Bird Cafe

My name is Sharon Share and I am now 35 years old.

My father died in that fire he was only 23. His name was Jerry Share, he left behind my mom, and 3 kids under the age of 5 and I was the baby on the way. My mom was 6month pregnant with me. I never got to meet my dad, but I have tried to research any thing I could find on this senseless event. I know that the 3 men are now free and living their own lives with their own family and I wonder if they ever think about what they have done to the families of the 37 dead and the over 56 people who got injured because they wanted a drink.

There is nothing marking the site of where that fire happend, it is now a parking lot. I wish somebody would ever put up a memorial of this event.

Thank you for listening.

Blue Bird Cafe Disaster

Hi Sharon :
Thank you for your comments about the senseless fire at the Blue Bird .
As for your trying to have a memorial or marker indicating where this occured, I would suggest (if possible) contacting as many of the families of those who were lost and injured in the fire.
I am assuming there must be some branch of government in Montreal you could contact. Perhaps a good start would be with one or more of the fire companies who responded to the disaster.
The more people you have on a letter or petition the better. I know this has been done at locations throughout the US, but it can be very frustrating and slow to move forward.
If there is anything I can do to try to help do not hesitate to drop me a note
God Bless in your life and attempts to commorate those who were lost.

History television episode on this fire


Thanks for transcribing this article.

As I remember the events the persons who set the fire had been thrown out of the bar earlier for having been rowdy and they then returned to set the fire.

I seem to remember that the back door of the bar was chained because people tried to sneak in without paying admission. But that may be just my faulty memory.

I am intimately aware of this fire as my wife and I were set to join another couple there that night. Our friends cancelled earlier that day, so we stayed home.

There but for fortune go you and I.

This fire was brought to mind because I was in a bar this month that had a fireplace with glass protective doors and these fools kept opening the doors to "feel the fire".



History television episode on this fire pt 2

According to their website: history dot ca then go to ontv

There will be an episode about this fire on Monday Nov 24 at 9 am and 3 pm.



thank you very much for the

thank you very much for the information and comments.
I have found in many fires such as these , unfortunately, it is a very common practice to keep "the back doors" locked . Even though it is illegal in most places (if not all) to do so .
In the case of the Blue Bird all they may have needed to have was a "Door Bouncer" and this may never have occured.

Thank You

I am 47 years old. I was 10 years old and with a sitter that night. The sitter woke me up and told me about the fire. Both my parents were there that night. They left 15 minutes before the fire broke out, but we did not know that until the next day. My parents helped some of the injured and stayed with them. We did not have a phone at the time, so my parents could not call. I spent the night thinking I lost my parents. It was the worst night of my childhood. I had nightmares of seeing my parents burn for years. I think those three guys should still be in prison. 20 years for each person they murdered comes to 740 years. That is what they should have got! But of course parole after serving about 300 years.



Wow how sad..:(
Certainly i don't remember that fire as i was a little young.
Does anyone remember the exact address of the club?
Thxs sooo much!

Blue Bird Cafe fire

I was in the club that night having arrived about 15 minutes before the fire began. My friend and I got out through the exit after someone broke down the door which led us into the downstairs part of the building and then we were on the street. I too think there should be a memorial at this spot and would be willing to come to Montreal to see the plaque erected or do what is necessary to have this accomplished. I now live in Vancouver and think often about this tragedy.
Earl Zimmer

The Bluebird Fire

Hi my name is Wanita Maher and I am now 40 years old.
My father also died in the Bluebird Fire and he was 24 years old. His name was Patrick Maher. He left behind a wife and 2 daughters ages 1 and 3 1/2 years old. We grew up without a father and are lives were changed from that night.I can remember asking my mom," When is daddy comeing home?"and she would cry. My mom would try to explain it to us but we were so young and didn't understand.

I know I lost my father that night in that senseless fire but I do consider myself to be very lucky now, you see that night my mom was suppose to go out with my dad to celebrate a friends birthday,but my sister was sick and so she stayed home with us.

For that I thank God.

The Bluebird Fire

Do you own when they are going to show that episode again, I would really like to watch it. My father was one on the ones that died that night in the fire. Thanks Wanita

article | by Dr. Radut