Providence, RI Dormitory Fire Kills Seven, Dec 1977
7 DEAD IN DORM BLAZE.
Providence, R. I. (AP) -- A fire apparently touched off by a hair-dryer swept through the fourth floor of a women's dormitory at Providence College early today, killing seven women and injuring at least 15 others, fire officials said.
Two of the women died when they jumped from their window onto the frozen, snow covered ground, just seconds before firefighter's could have reached them with a safety ladder, authorities said.
Hundreds of other residents of Aquinas Hall were forced out into the cold night air after the first alarm was sounded at 2:56 a. m. The fire was controlled about an hour later.
Hours after the blaze was extinguished, the death toll was reported at eight, but a further check showed only seven had died.
Fire officials said the blaze was limited to the top floor of the four-story dormitory. One investigator, who asked that his name not be used, said the blaze apparently started in a closet where a coed was drying her clothes with a hair dryer.
LEO TRAMBUKIS, Providence public safety commissioner, said six of the victims either died in the dorm or when they jumped from their rooms. A seventh was dead on arrival at Roger Williams Hospital in Providence.
The fire investigator said two of the three girls sharing the room where the fire started jumped to their deaths from a window. The third was rescued by firefighters using a ladder truck.
"If they (the two girls who jumped) had waited five more seconds, they would have been saved," the investigator said.
Officials at Roger Williams Hospital, said nine coeds were brought there, including the one who died en route. Four other students were taken to Rhode Island Hospital and one went to Miriam Hospital.
Several of the women were listed in serious condition.
About 4,100 students attend the college, which is the only institution of higher education operated by the Dominican Fathers, a Catholic order of priests.
The deaths prompted school officials to close the school through Jan. 9 and reschedule semester examinations after that date. "We're more concerned about the tragedy than the exams," said JOE McALEER, Providence College spokesman.
Sentinel and Enterprise Fitchburg Massachusetts 1977-12-13