The 1931 fire at the Little Sisters of Poor Home in the East End of Pittsburgh was described as a holocaust. The newspaper articles detail acts of heroism and despair. What emerges from the articles is the sense of terror and brave volunteers who rushed to the scene to assist.
Pittsburgh Post Gazette
July 25, 1931
July 27, 1931
July 28, 1931
31 KNOWN DEAD AS FIRE SWEEPS LITTLE SISTERS OF POOR HOME
150 Injured are Treated in Hospitals
Twelve Reported Missing in Penn Ave. Fire Seen By Thousands
One of the dead was identified at the Allegheny County morgue this morning by papers and letters in his pockets. He was Joe Stewart, of 1114 Sunday Street. Morgue officials said he was suffocated and burned.
Thirty-one aged men and women were know to be dead, in a fire that destroyed the Little Sister of the Poor Home for the Aged at Penn and South Aiken avenues last night, and firemen were still searching through the ruins at 3 o'clock this morning for several others believed to have been burned to death.
Hospitals throughout the East End were crowded by 157 other victims, injured or overcome by smoke in the burning building, according to reports believed nearly complete.
Despite Fire Chief Richard Smith's declaration after a complete search of the ruined building, that he did not believe any more bodies remained there, rumors persisted that a dozen of more were still missing, including six volunteer rescuers who were not seen returning from the interior of the structure.
Continue Search for Bodies Today
Chief Smith said the charred floors were in such dangerous condition that further attempts to find bodies would be delayed until after daybreak.
Only the stark blackened walls of the huge building remained early this morning to show where, a few hours before, death had crept upon the 31 aged persons sleeping peacefully in the refuge of their last home.
Only a bright glare against the walls of the surrounding houses remained of the roaring blaze that had swept from the basement of the building to the roof, turning the 60-year-old building into a seething furnace.
The aged men and women who had occupied the home were being cared for in hospitals, in neighboring houses, in the parish house of St. Lawrence Church, and in other shelters.
Fire is Put Under Control
Fire was under control, though the ruined interior was still burning somewhat, at 3 o'clock this morning. Firemen confined their efforts mainly to subduing this last afterglow of the tragic conflagration. The entire interior was destroyed.
One of the women brought to the morgue last night from the scene of the disaster is believed to be a nun of the order in charge of the home. The body was so much charred as to be unrecognizable, but the remains of a white cloth across the forehead indicated to morgue authorities that she was one of the sisters.
Many of the victims, both men and women, were disfigured beyond recognition by the flames that entrapped them.
Records of Home Saved.
Records of the home were rescued from the flames, and were being checked early this morning with hospital lists of injured to determine whether most lives had been lost.
Wild terror among the aged and almost helpless inmates, and the frantic struggle of firemen and volunteer rescuers to save the aged people from flames, turned the neighborhood of the home into a veritable inferno during the height of the disaster.
The wide lawn about the home was thickly scattered with physicians, nurses and rescue workers, bearing out the victims and giving hasty first aid.
Ambulances shrilled through the streets around the home carrying their burden of dead and injured to hospitals, while police battled to keep back a crowd of more than 20,000 that gathered as the flamed lighted the skies above the East End district.
Six Fire Alarms are Sounded
All available police and fire companies were rushed to the scene when the first alarm, coming shortly after 10 o'clock, was followed in rapid succession by five others.
City physicians and physicians and nurses from a dozen hospitals were rushed to the scene and gave first aid to the injured and terrified inmates as they were carried out of the building.
Nuns in the home and brothers of a religious order near the scene of the tragedy worked shoulder to shoulder with fireman and volunteer rescuers in the most fiercely blazing section of the building, aiding the aged through the smoke-filled corridors, and carry cripples and paralytics to the lawn.
Shortly before 1 o'clock, the firemen had gained sufficient control of the blaze that authorities were preparing to enter the building to make an investigation and check the list of inmates.
Plan to Search in Ruins
Dr. Daniel E. Sable, Lieutenant Frank Ferris, of the homicide squad, Assistant Police Superintendent Ben Marshall and Deputy Fire Chief Louis Conley and Frank Jones were to conduct the search through the ruins.
Sister Agatha, mother superior of the home, told authorities that the total number of occupants was 250 - 145 men and 105 women, all more than 60 years old.
Sister Agatha was taken forcibly from the burning building after she had rushed back in to lead the rescue of the trapped inmates, and was carried in hysterical condition to the rectory of St. Lawrence's church.
So many of the aged victims were injured, overcome or suffocated in the blaze that ambulances were insufficient and 25 cabs were rushed to the scene shortly after the fire broke out to aid in taking them to hospitals.
Plead at Windows for Rescue
The inmates of the home were helpless before the onslaught of the flames, and scenes of desperate terror met the eyes of firemen as they battled to rescue them.
Screaming women and feebly shouting men stood at the windows of the institution as flames spurted out above and below them, and pleaded for rescue.
Firemen were hampered from the first in their attempts to effect rescues and get the blaze under control.
Scores of neighbors who rushed to the scene as the first cry of "fire" rang out from a window at the front of the building, were unable to enter the grounds because of heavy iron gates that closed the way to the driveway and sidewalks inside.
Many of the volunteer rescuers scaled the high stone wall about the institution. Firemen arriving a few moments later battered down the iron gates to get equipment inside.
Many Leap to Safety in Nets.
Ladders placed against the walls of the building were burned away before firemen could scale them.
Life nets were spread all around the building, and many of the aged occupants whom firemen could not reach jumped to safety.
The parish house of St. Lawrence church, the church school, the homes of neighbors and the wards of hospitals throughout the district were thrown open to the homeless aged people made doubly homeless by the conflagration.
The Pittsburgh Council of Catholic Women turned over its quarters at 5216 Penn avenue to the fire victims, and 30 were expected to be accommodated there.
Despite the care given to those rescued from the home, City Physician W. Howard Evans said he believed that the shock of the tragedy would be fatal to scores of them.
The victims taken to hospitals could not be identified, except in a few cases.
Without the horde of volunteers, most of them young men living in the nearby Bloomfield section, firemen would have been unable to cope with the job of rescue.
In the Penn avenue and South Aiken avenue courts of the burning wing, scores of volunteers massed on the stout fire escapes and passed inmates from hand to hand until they were brought to the ground.
Cause Not Determined.
The cause of the fire had not been determined at midnight last night. According to firemen, it broke out in the men's infirmary, and spread rapidly, first to the roof, then toward others sections of the building. The men's infirmary is at the corner fronting on South Aiden and Penn avenues.
Firemen and police off duty throughout the city were summoned to aid in rescue work and in establishing fire lines.
Streets for blocks around were crowded from side to side with the thousands watching the fire.
Oxygen was administered on the lawn to many of the victims, and the dark ground was crowded with white-clad figures of physicians and nurses, working in a sweltering mass in efforts to save lives.
Beside them, scattered on the grass all about the home, lay holy images salvaged by the faithful from the home and carried to the lawn to prevent their being destroyed.
The large number of casualties and the age and helplessness of the fire's victims combined to make it the most frightful institutional fire in the history of the city. The Little Sisters of the Poor home has been one of the chief welfare institutions of the city. Its four-story red brick building occupied almost an entire square at Penn and South Aiken avenues and provided a lifelong refuge for homeless aged people without means of support.
Panic Seizes Inmates
Panic seized the inmates when the first cry of fire rang through the building, and fireman and other rescuers witnessed scenes of desperate fright and alarm as they struggled to bring the victims from the building.
Carried down by ladders by firemen, after she became weak and overcome by smoke, Mrs. Margaret Kline, 80, told her rescuers after resuscitation, that she was hemmed in by smoke and flame and "prayed that God would take her away."
Miss Veronia Stein, 64, also one of the rescued, said that when she was taken down the ladders she told firemen that Mary Henley, 75 and Mary Jacobs, 75, both crippled, and paralyzed, were lying behind a door, unable to help themselves. When firemen returned and tried to enter the same window from which Miss Stein had been saved, they found their ladders burned, and fire pouring from the window.
Mrs. Mary Kelly, 80, also an inmate with quarters on the third floor, where the others were stationed, was rescued, after being overcome, and sent to a hospital.
She said that Freida Mena, 83, also partly paralyzed, was crying for help. Efforts were being made at once by firemen to reach her.
Many Leap to Safety
Fire nets were spread when ladders proved ineffectual in reaching the windows, and many of the frightened aged people jumped to safety.
Belief that the shock of the conflagration would be fatal to at least 150 of the aged and infirm inmates was expressed by City Physician W. Howard Evans, after he had gone through the building at 11:30 o'clock. He said at that time he believed all the inmates had been accounted for.
The first alarm summoning firemen to the home was sent in by William Gaefke, 5302 Penn avenue, who was sitting with his wife on the front porch of his home when he heard an aged man crying "Fire!" from one of the windows of the building.
A cupola in the center of the building fell into a group of firemen and injured three. They were taken to Mercy hospital.
The wind in which the fire started was completely gutted and care was taken to keep the throng of volunteers and curious away from the front wall, which was expected to fall momentarily.
St. Francis Hospital
Ten dead. All unidentified.
West Penn Hospital
Eight dead. All unidentified.
Two dead. Both unidentified.
Five dead. All unidentified.
Taken from ruins.
Six dead. All unidentified.
West Penn Hospital William Conley, 70
Fifty overcome or injured. William Bowers, 69
George Wyman, 73 James McNellis, 72, a paralytic
Michael Schmidt, 77 Hugh Ward, 74
Andrew Rahel, 77 James Cavanaugh, 83
David Mulaney, 63 John Enright, 72
Julius Lavoutch, 75 Nick Covich, 70
Mrs. Annie Campbell, 73 Mary Ellen Heineman, 72
Mrs. Eva Froehlich, 78 Linda Tuttle, 74
Mrs. Kate Mullen, 55 Alice Sebeis, 75
Mrs. Mary Smith, 48 Catherine Sarver, 82
Catherine O'Malley, 68 Mrs. Anna Lagley, 67
Mary Reagan, 70 Mary Conrad, 78
Amelia Schmidt, 70 Ellen Grant, 64
Minnie Lenz, 68 Winnie Butler, 62
Mary Buchele, 63 Sam Berry, 70
Susie Shupech, 70 Annie Goettman, 67
Margaret Cain, 80 Margaret Henrahan, 50
Emma Stevens, 73 Anna Ward, 69
Anne Bumba, 73 Catherine White, 70
Theresa Strump, 76 Mary Little, 64
Lizzie Byers, 68 Ada Lafferty, 75
Mary Connors, 66 Zacca Sabella, 75
Mary Horn, 65 Elizabeth McGray, 75
Flora Leary, 70 Unidentified woman.
Fireman R. H. McLaughlin, 35, 6803 Frankstown avenue, of No. 8 Engine company, lacerations of the chest.
Walter Grady, 32, 163 Banner way, volunteer rescuer, overcome by smoke.
St. Francis Hospital
Forty overcome or injured.
Timothy Dillon, 64, burned on ears and face William Freund, 67
William Ryan, 64 John Brunide, 70
Michael Connolly, 69 William O. Smith, 71
James J. Mullen, 74 James Cooper, 67
John McGuire, 64 William Kramer, 69
Gabriel Urso, 70 John J. Davis, 70
Mrs. Mary Maloney, 71 R. Haganback, 69
Stephen Nashye, 63 Emily Blead, 63
Patrick Griffin, 70 Thomas F. Conlon, 69
James Cooper, 71 Thomas Rowe, 75
John Kanlowski, 67 Mrs. Frank Michlowski, 62
Dennis Keshley, 61 John Moloski, 61
Frank Burns, 70 John Nicholls, 69
Mrs. Marie Sweeney, 73, suffering from shock Mrs. Susie Rupert, 73
Patrick O'Connell, 78 George Schwer, 68
George Wisner, 71 John Kawke, 66
John Kantorska, 64 Andrew Verin, 67
George Wasmer, 71
Thirty-five overcome or injured, including a policeman and a fireman, both unidentified and seriously hurt.
John Kowalski, 67 Paul Booth
George Deltz, 22, a rescuer, overcome by smoke and suffering from shock.
Edward Kurtz Annie Platt
Frank Daly, 16, one of the first rescuers, cuts on both arms and suffering from shock.
Mary Kurn James Gorney, 74
Catherine Harkins Harry Walker
Mrs. Mink Margaret McVeigh, Fifty-fourth street
Mary O'Brien Annie Kennedy of Bridgeville
Jeanne Kearney, 69
John Collins, 5437 Columbo street, volunteer rescuer, overcome by smoke
John Young, 36, 3346 Penn avenue, volunteer rescuer, cut on arm.
Thirty-six overcome or injured
Mary McCarthy, 68 Brigid Doolan, 71
Mary Lang, 74 Mary Shannon, 73
Ellen O'Connor, 69 John Hill, 65
Charles Brown, 67 Patrick Shea, 65
John Rowan, 77 Andrew Rolf
George Bolish Frank Kaminski, fireman
Mrs. Mary E. Schmidt Margaret McConnell
Joseph Stehal Alex Nixon
William Hainey John Merkel
August Hammerle Joseph Cassidy
James Kearns Nick Lamberter
Owen Brady George Hall
John Rohan Samuel Hill
Pat Shea Charles Brown
A. Swatger Anthony Grabetzki
Michael O'Malley James McGurk
John Madigan C. W. Kelly
Charles Shubert John Shea
Catholic Daughters of America Clubhouse
John Dreslin, 66 John Stiak, 79
James Mullen, 66 William Hogan, 68
Aged, Infirm Heroines Battle Peril of Flame
Women Inmates of Burning Home in Valiant Efforts to Save Each Other; Nun Praised for Brave Action as Fire Rages.
Eight aged women, occupants of a room on an upper floor of the Little Sisters of the Poor Home made efforts to save each other last night, as fire spread terror through their wing of the institution. All were believed saved.
Mrs. Sarah Carlson, 65, first spread the alarm to the aged group, three of whom were crippled or paralyzed. Then she started for the men's quarters in another part of the building to make sure that her husband, Dan, was saved. Her friends last night did not know whether or not she reached safety.
As the five aged who were able to walk began helping Bridget Dooley, Margaret Henry and Bridget Reardon to safety, the three invalids cried in unison: "No! No! Help Mama." "Mama" is an aged and paralyzed woman in the next room, beloved by all the inmates.
Mrs. Margaret Connell, 73, one of the five who tried vainly to aid her more unfortunate neighbors, told the story of how the woman battled against suffocations and heat to aid others to safety. Sister Pascaline, in charge of the floor, stayed at her post, directing rescue efforts and refused to leave until the floor was cleared.
"We were almost suffocating." Mrs. Connell said. "The women had to run from window to window for air. Sister Pascaline made them stick their heads our and breathe before going on. There were no lights and the heat on the floor was intense. I felt too weak to go on. I sank back in bed and a fireman carried me out."
INMATES DAUGHTER IS HYSTERICAL, FINDS HIM SAFE
Hours after Jim Mullen, chocking from smoke and clothing partly burned, was rescued from the men's quarters of the Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged last night, a hysterical young woman who said she was his daughter tried to force her way past police and firemen into the burning building.
News of the holocaust had just reached her at her home at 418 North Highland avenue. Police overpowered her in her efforts to enter the structure, and, with assurances that all inmates had been removed, took her home.
Mullin's rescue was one of the most spectacular of the night. Two nuns who held him, gasping for breath with his head out of a fourth floor window, ignored demands of firemen that hey jump to the roof of an adjoining building. While flames ate their way closer to the trio, firemen, attempting to hoist a ladder to the window, met difficulties from the spreading fire. When they finally had succeeded, Mullin was rescued first at the request of the sisters. They were taken out later and all three collapsed after being placed on the roof of a smaller building. Mullen was revived and the nuns sent to a hospital.
CORONER GETS HOME ROSTER
Nun Wades Through Water to Find Records.
Walking through water knee deep, Sister Mary Louise, assistant to the Mother Superior at the Little Sisters of the Poor Home, last night led William Davidson, the coroner's chief clerk, Superintendent of Police Peter P. Walsh and Inspector of Detectives Frank R. Boyd into the building after last night's fire to obtain for them the list of inmates to assist the coroner and police in checking the casualties and identifying the victims.
Despite the insistence of firemen that all survivors had been taken from the building, Sister Mary Louise insisted upon going through part of the burned building to assure herself that all possible had been done to save the inmates' lives.
Aged Woman Said Rosary as Fire Raged, Boy Tells
16-year-old Rescuer Gives Picture of Heroism and Calmness Shown by Group of Inmates in Burning Home; Lad Suffers Cuts.
With both arms lacerated severely, and suffering from bruises and other minor hurts, Frank Daly, a 16-year-old boy, who was one of the first to gain entrance to the burning building of the Little Sisters of the Poor at Penn and Aiken avenues last night, told of the heroism and calmness displayed by a group of inmates in the women's department.
While having his injuries dressed by a doctor and nurses in Homeopathic Hospital, Daly said he had seen groups of women, gathered together on their knees, reciting the Rosary in an even-toned voice, while flames crept nearer and nearer, as they coughed and choked at intervals.
Some of these women lost their lives, others were overcome and carried out unconscious, Daly said, and some few in that part of the building were rescued. Daly said that he suffered his injuries when he shattered a window to gain entrance to that part of the burning building where most of the flame seemed to be centered at the time. He said he aided firemen and police, with other men and women who were some of the first to reach the scene, in getting several of the inmates to the windows, experiencing difficulty with some who were crippled and unable to aid themselves.
OFFICER FINDS MOTHER SAFE
Detailed to Fire, He Finds Parent in Hospital
Ordered by his [superior] to rush to duty at a "fire at Penn and Aiken avenues," Patrolman Gabriel Voletto, of No 8 station, realized his worst fears, when upon arriving at the scene, he found the Little Sisters of the Poor Home of which his mother, Mrs. Voletto, 65, was an inmate, in flames.
Joining a rescue squad in a drastic effort to find his mother the bewildered patrolman could find to trace of her. He decided to go to the hospitals and rushed to St. Francis. His mother was not there, he (unreadable) after looking at every one of the survivors. Desperate his hope fading, he rushed to the Homeopathic Hospital, where as at the other institution, doctors were too busy saving lives to care about whose lived they were.
Voletto dashed through the building. He reached the fifth, fourth and third floors to no avail. Then as his hoped waned, he searched the second floor - and found his mother suffering from the effects of smoke, but according to physicians, was to recover.
RAZED BUILDING 30 YEARS OLD
Estimates of Damage Range from $45,000 to $300,000
The portion of the Little Sisters of the Poor Infirmary which was destroyed by fire last night was built more than 30 years ago, Chief Richard Smith of the bureau of fire safety said after he had inspected the ruins. The building was constructed in such a manner that the upper floors forming a giant flue through which flames roared until the destruction was complete, he said.
Chief Smith said the damage to the building would approximate $45,000. Other firemen, however, placed the damage much higher and several priests said they believed the damage would reach $300,000. Two small detached modern brick buildings, housing a laundry and a kitchen were not damaged. The rest of the property was completely destroyed.
LIFE SAVED BY HEROIC NUNS
Inmate's Daughter is Hysterical, Finds Him Safe
Hours after Jim Mullin, choking from smoke and clothing partly burned, was rescued from the men's quarters of the Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged last night, a hysterical young woman who said she was his daughter tried to force her way past policemen and firemen into the burning building.
News of the holocaust had just reached her at her home at 418 North Highland avenue. Police overpowered her in her efforts to enter the structure, and with assurances that all inmates had been removed, took her home.
Mullin's rescue was one of the most spectacular of the night. Two nuns who held him, gasping for breath with his head out of a fourth floor window, ignored demands of firemen that they jump to the roof of an adjoining building. While flames at their way closer to the trio, firemen, attempting to hoist a ladder to the window, met difficulties from the spreading fire. When they finally had succeeded, Mullen was rescued first at the request of the sisters. They were taken out later and all three collapsed after being place on the roof of a smaller building. Mullen was revived and the nuns sent to a hospital.
HEROISM IS SHOWN IN RESCUING MANY AGED AND INFIRM
Woman of 75 Carried Unconscious from Flames, First of Daring Acts of Heroism By Police & Firemen
Battering down a door leading to the smoke-filled second floor of the Little Sisters of the Poor building, in which a score of lives were taken by fire last night, Acting Police Lieutenant Hugh Lavery, who was off duty and resting at his home, 331 South Graham street, near the scene of the fire, carried at 75-year-old woman to safety and was credited with the first of a series of daring rescues in which Pittsburgh police, firemen and private citizens distinguished themselves.
Men seemed to try to outdo each other in their efforts to save the aged and infirm from the smoke and flames. Trapped inmates were carried down ladders by firemen, and volunteers and one aged woman, unconscious, was lowered to the ground from the third floor by a rope tied around her waist.
Firemen and policemen, live Lavery, off duty, rushed to the fire, working in civilian clothes in which they had been enjoying an evening's rest to battle the flames. Brawny bluecoats worked with the doctors to aid the stricken victims of smoke as they waited for the arrival of the clanging ambulances in the shadow of the flames that had turned a quiet haven for the aged into a roaring inferno.
Men and boys living in the vicinity of the home, were the real heroes of the catastrophe, veteran policemen and firemen, who had attended most the city's big fires in recent years, said last night.
"This is certainly the worst fire I've ever seen," Lavery said, after the flames had died down and police had established fire lines around the doomed building. "And if it weren't for the help of the young fellows around this neighborhood, the list of dead would be twice, or three times as large," he said.
"When there was a call for more hose from firemen up on ladders, a thousand willing hands pulled the long lines over the brick wall and helped hoist them up the ladders. There was more work to do in a hurry here tonight than the combined police and fire departments could possible do, and these young men who turned in and did such a fine job certainly deserve credit."
Police Lieutenant William Fullerton, who also helped carry out the inmates, likewise praised the civilian heroes.
One of the first persons to reach the home after the fire started was William Gaefke, 6302 Penn avenue,
whose home is three doors from the entrance to the home. Gaefke scaled the wall with several other men who lived nearby, just as the cry of fire went up. While one man ran to sound an alarm, Gaefke and his companions assisted 15 aged men from the main building, guiding them to a chapel nearby. Several of these inmates were almost blinded.
Jacob Dietz, an inmate who will be 80 years old tomorrow, who was carried down a ladder from the third floor by firemen and volunteer rescuers, said that there were 66 others in the part of the building from which he was taken when he was carried out.
Another survivor, Edward Rice, 86, was at the point of collapse when carried down the ladder from the second floor, where, he said a large number of inmates still were trapped.
Among others carried out and taken to the rectory at St. Lawrence's church across the street from the burned institution, were Alton Nerozonick, 79; Rose Ovanovitch, 70; Mrs. Anna Freed, 83, who is blind, and Mrs. William Kohler, 76.
Also among the volunteer rescuers were Harry Scherson, 21, of Forty-fifth street, and Ed Dowling, 19, of 418 Forty-fourth street, who entered the burning building and carried out women through dense smoke to safety.
Fireman E. G. Carter, of No. 6 Engine Company, who lives at 413 North Aiken avenue, near the scene of the fire, was off duty when the fire broke. He rushed to aid in the rescue and carried three women whom he later learned were dead, from the fourth floor.
W. J. Boyce, 20, of 525 St. James place, and a friend, Jack Powell, 19, of 5320 Powtatton street, followed first fire engines from East Liberty, scaled outer walls of institution and assisted in the rescue of several inmates.
RESCUES TEN AND COLLAPSES
Brave Youth Faints on Ladder with Firemen.
Collapsing while climbing a ladder to continue the rescue work in which he had helped to save 10 lives at the Little Sisters of the Poor home fire last night, Bert Huber, 21, of 724 Copeland street, was taken to the Homeopathic Hospital suffering from the effects of smoke and exhaustion.
Young Huber was driving past the home with two companions, William Mossman, of Negley avenue, and John Benz, of Alder street, just after the fire broke and with his companions immediately rushed to join the rescuers.
Huber collapsed as he followed two firemen up a ladder to the third floor to carry out an aged woman standing gasping for breath at a window. He was assisted to the ground by firemen, who again went up the ladder and saved the woman.
Among the inmates of the home unaccounted for in a check-up early this morning was Daniel Carlin, 68, who after leading his wife, Mrs. Sarah Carlin, 65 to safety, rushed back into the burning building to assist in saving others.
Carlin was not seen after he reentered the burning building.
PRIESTS CARRY RITES OF CHURCH INTO HOLOCAUST
Amidst scenes of confusion and horror as the infirmary of the Little Sisters of the Poor burned last night, more than a score of priests, in and out of the inferno, went administering the rites of absolution to those dying and in danger of death.
Among the clergymen who offered consolation to the victims were Fathers Coakley, Kennedy and Carroll, of Sacred Heart church, Fathers Young and Campbell of St. Lawrence church and Father Lucian.
HYSTERICAL INMATE HURLS RESCUER OFF LADDER TOP
Fireman on Vacation Also One of First to Arrive and Help in Rescue of Many, as Inmates Line Fire Escapes.
Fighting against the attack of an hysterical inmate, while at the top of a ladder against a fourth floor window of the burning Little Sisters of the Poor home, John Hoffman, a public works department employe, was hurled to the ground, 30 feet below, by the man he was trying to save. He suffered bruises, but continued in the rescue work until relieved by firemen and policemen.
Fire Captain Joseph McConville, of No. 7, Engine company, who was on his vacation, ran from his home near the scene when he heard shouts of men on the fire escapes, and screams of the women inmates.
Marshalling several men together, McConville, with Jack Noonan and P. G. Salmon, scaled the wall separating the grounds of the home from the street, hoisted an old ladder to the fire escape and rescued more than a dozen.
Thomas Martin, 18 years old, one of the first to arrive in answer to pleas for help, assisted several inmates from the home, and then carried out a chalice from the chapel.
FLAMES LIGHT UP SCENES OF CONFUSION AND HORROR
Lurid Glow Cast Over Frenzied Activity of Rescue and Relief with Accompaniment of Shouts, Screams and Sirens.
Lighted up by the flames, the once peaceful wards of the infirmary, with the carefully trimmed hedges and tidy vegetable gardens, presented a picture that will dwell a long time in the minds of those who viewed it as the fire fighting and rescue work succeeded. Everywhere was turmoil, shouting of firemen and screaming sirens of fire engines and ambulances.
A score of shirtless youths, their faces emerged black and their arms and shoulders shining with sweat, went scurrying from place to place with the life net. From a window high up on the wall, a fireman's face would appear and in a few seconds the form of an old man would appear at the window and the fireman would gently toss him free of the building, and into the big life net. None of the more aged persons …were injured in their fall.
Two fire escapes on the wing which was burning were swarming with rescuers when the fire was at its heighth. The overcome and injured aged persons were taken down from one volunteer to another, in much the manner of a bucket brigade at a rural fire.
Those carried out were taken to ambulances, patrol wagons or taxicabs and sent to the hospitals or nearby homes. Many of the aged inmates of the home were able to leave the building themselves before firemen arrived.
The removal of the dead by firemen and deputy coroners revealed that many who lost their lives had crawled beneath their cots in the infirmary, evidently to keep out of the choking smoke as long as possible. A number of bodies were carried down the fire escapes over the backs of stalwart firemen and policemen. Some had to be removed on stretchers.
STORY OF FIRE TOLD BY HERO
Like Nightmare, Says May Helping in Jam at Doorway
From his hospital bed in the Homeopathic Hospital, Bruce Griffiths of 2324 Belmont street, Banksville, one of the first to discover the fire in the Little Sisters of the Poor Home, told his story of the disaster. Griffith collapsed after saving many of the inmates.
From an electric sign on which he was working at Bigelow boulevard and the Bloomfield bridge, many blocks from the home, Griffith saw flames shoot from the windows of the top floor of the burning wing. Hastily informing firemen, he rushed to the fire in his truck.
Firemen were just beginning the work of rescue as he arrived. The front door had been opened.
"It seems as though there were a thousand piled up on each other at the front door," Griffiths said. "We started pulling them outs, as fast as we could. I don’t know how many I helped out. It seemed like a thousand. We kept on carrying old men and women out, with more rescuers appearing every minute. That's about all I remember about it - it was like a nightmare."
Griffiths is suffering from shock. His condition is said by hospital authorities to be good.
A report at the scene said a passing motorist first saw the fire and attempted to enter the institution to warn occupants. He, with others, spend 15 minutes breaking through the gate and doors of the institution, it was said, before they could reach the inmates. Another report said a man named McCabe turned in the first alarm from a store near the building.
W. H. Shulte, 40, of 2100 West Liberty avenue, passing the home in his automobile as the fire broke out, ran into the building and aided 22 of the inmates to safety. Burned on both arms, he was taken to St. Francis Hospital for treatment.
An unidentified boy about 18 years old, collapsed after saving seven inmates and was taken to a hospital.
Paul Hitchcock, employe in a drug store at 300 Melwood street, carried out 12 inmates.
Joe Crock, of 7020 Churchland street, made five trips into the burning building, carrying out one dead and five living victims of the flames.
Sisters Seeking Information on Missing Inmates
In the belief that some of the missing inmates of the Home for the Aged of the Little Sisters of the Poor may be in homes of nearby residents. Sister Mary Louise, assistant to the Mother Superior, yesterday asked that anyone with knowledge of a previously unreported inmate call Montrose 3870.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 27, 1931
DEATH TOLL MOUNTS TO 39 IN HOME FOR AGED DISASTER
Many Victims in Hospitals May Die; Four Probes of Fire Started.
Pneumonia and shock, fatal aftermath of the fire which late Friday night raged through the Home of r the Aged of the Little Sisters of the Poor, yesterday swelled the death toll to 39.
The fatality list rose sporadically yesterday. Last night Mary Shumaker, 68, died in the Homeopathic Hospital of shock, and Clara Lenz, 70, died in West Penn Hospital of burns and inhaled smoke, the latest of the dead in the holocaust.
Seven more of the 230 inmates of the ancient building at Penn and Aiken avenues that burst into flames behind locked doors and gates, while its occupants slept, were still missing last night. But their bodies had not been found during a careful search of the smoking ruins, and it was believed they had escaped.
Four Inquiries Began
Scores of victims of the disaster, second to but one in Pittsburgh's history, lay in hospitals last night, with the prospect, according to coroner's officials, that many more would be removed to the county morgue before the toll of the blaze had reached its height.
The smouldering ruins leaped again into flames at 3:30 o'clock yesterday afternoon. But the feeble blaze brought an immediate call from police guarding the ruined structure, and a fire engine company extinguished the flames within half an hour.
Four separate investigations were under way yesterday to determine the cause of the fire, the precautions taken against it, the fire hazards of the old building, which was called a "fire trap" by Richard J. Trimble, secretary of the Fire Underwriters Association, and the locking of the doors and wall gates during the night.
Coroner W. J. McGregor will visit the ruined building today, and will question nuns and inmates of the home to determine every phase of the fatal blaze. Fire Chief Richard L. Smith, county Fire Marshall Thomas L. Pfarr, and the Fire Underwriters Association each were preparing for separate investigations.
Chief Smith advanced his theory of the cause yesterday. He declared that oil and dust in the floor scraper, lying beneath one of the stairways of the building, burst spontaneously into flame, burned through the stairs and sent a sheet of fire surging through the open corridors.
Had Oil-Soaked Dust
The scraped had been used at 4:15 o'clock Friday afternoon, and had been put away, he believed, with the oil-soaked dust still clinging to it.
Rules against smoking, Chief Smith said, were strictly enforced, and all of the inmates had retired by 9 o'clock. The fire was discovered an hour and a half later.
Tales of heroism on the part of volunteers and firemen continued to be told yesterday. Half a dozen of the volunteer rescuers and firemen were in hospitals, burned, or with smoke weakened lungs, as a result of their work through the grim hours when the flames raged through the building and aged men and women stood at windows vainly pleading for help.
At the county morgue identification of the bodies of the victims went on slowly. Twenty-seven bodies had been recognized, some of them claimed by relatives, last night. Twelve more lay waiting identification. But the names of seven of these, two women and five men, will never be known, morgue officials said. And the identity of three others may never be learned.
10 Bodies Kept Apart
These 10 charred, disfigured bodies lay in the basement of the morgue, apart from the view of hundreds of visitors who entered the morgue yesterday to seen the victims of the disaster.
The futility of attempting identification of them was apparent to morgue officials, according to Deputy Coroner John Black. Sister Pasqueline and Sister Louise of the Home for the Aged, visited the bodies there yesterday. For an hour they sought traces of identity and then quietly announced their failure to recognize any of them.
Today they will bring the records of the institution to the morgue, when Black expects to identify, through them, all of those lying unclaimed except the seven whose names will never definitely be known.
Errors in Identification
Distraught relatives on two occasions, morgue officials said, identified as those of their kin disfigured bodies that already had been identified otherwise, and were about to be claimed. But the overwrought nerves that caused the errors were quieted, and the tangles straightened out.
Edward Rice, 75, inmate of the home who was reported killed, and later was reported missing, is alive and well, according to a telephone call purporting to come from relatives. The names of the relatives and the location of their home, where Rice was said to have been removed, were refused.
The search for the eight missing inmates will be resumed today, when all of the homes in the vicinity of the fire will be visited in the belief that some of the inmates sought refuge in them.
Make Relief Plans
Mother Provincial Augustine of Baltimore, head of the province of the Little Sisters of the Poor in which Pittsburgh is included, arrived yesterday, and Bishop Hugh C. Boyle of the Pittsburgh diocese of the Catholic church was on his way here to mature plans for the relief of those made homeless by the fire.
Rescued men and women were still finding shelter in hospitals last night, but the Joseph P. Wall Memorial Home of the Little Sisters, on the Northside, was being prepared to accommodate about 80 of those fully recovered. Many others will remain in the hospitals for medical care.
Mrs. Enoch Rauh, welfare director of the city of Pittsburgh, has offered facilities at Mayview for 150 of the aged men and women whose home is now a bleak tangle of ashes and broken stone and charred timbers.
Tragic Stories Told
The tragic stories of the fire continued yesterday, as the disaster remained the single subject of conversation throughout the city; of the policeman, assigned to the fire, who found his mother among the dead at the county morgue; of the nuns, heroically striving to return to their charges, until they were carried out themselves by firemen and rescuers; the scores of young men who scaled the walls, raced through the smoke filled corridors, climbed ladders and penetrated the blazing rooms, bearing back with them the inert and sometimes lifeless bodies of inmates.
There were gruesome tales of aged men and women who crawled beneath their beds, frantically seeking protection from the overwhelming smoke, and died there; of one youth who sought among the bodies for those which retained life, abandoning the dead and bearing to the air only those who still lived; of another young volunteer who, carrying several aged inmates to the window, returned from the fiery rooms again and found his ladder burned and his own escape apparently cut off - but was himself rescued with another ladder.
Another rescuer told of a nun, running through the black hallways lighted only be the flames above, to save the Holy Eucharist; and how he sent her back, and went himself, with a priest, to bring out the Host.
Mask Torn off
The frantic victims whom Fireman Frank Kamanski, of Engine Company No. 14, carried from the burning building tore his gas mask from his face, and Kamanski, himself overcome, was taken to a hospital.
Police guards were detailed to the home yesterday and Saturday, to keep traffic moving past the scene and to keep curious wayfarers off the property. They will guard the wrecked building until the investigations are all complete.
Superintendent of Police Peter P. Walsh paid tribute to the volunteer rescuers yesterday.
"In all my experience." he said. "I have never seen such unselfish efforts on the part of men and women who helped those stricken."
Free burial for the victims of the disaster has been offered by the Allegheny County Funeral Directors' Association through President E. C. Koontz, to officials of the home.
Only one disaster has taken a greater toll of life in Pittsburgh. It was the explosion of the Allegheny Arsenal in 1862, when 72 persons were killed. The Reedsdale street gas tank explosion on November 14, 1927, resulted in the death of 27 persons, as compared with the 39 already dead in the Home for the Aged holocaust.
Even the railroad riots of 1877, when the station, shops, coaches and locomotives were burned and the rioters fired upon, resulted in the death of only 20 despite damage of $4,000,000.
R. J. Trimble, secretary of the Fire Underwriters' Association, declared that other "firetrap" institutions existed in the county.
"We have many other institutions of the same type of construction," he said. "On my way back I passed one such. Four brick walls filled with lumber, four stories high, no sprinklers - and hundreds of inmates.
Councilman Harry A. Little announced his intention of conferring today with City Solicitor Charles A Waldschmidt to prepare an ordinance for the compulsory installation of fire alarm and sprinkler systems in such institutions. Director of Public Safety James M. C lark also announced his intention to check up on all orphanages and charitable institutions within the city, "to determine whether they are fire traps."
BISHOP BOYLE CANCELS TRIP
Returns to City to Direct Fire Relief Work
Rt. Rev. Hugh C. Boyle, bishop of the Catholic diocese of Pittsburgh, who was overtaken while on his vacation by news of the fire Friday night that took 39 lives at the Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged, returned to Pittsburgh early this morning from St. Louis to take personal charge of the relief work in the wake of the disaster.
Rev. C. A. Sanderbeck of St. Paul's Cathedral was delegated to meet the bishop on his return. It was not known whether Bishop Boyle proposed to go directly to the scene today to begin the work of relief.
Bishop Boyle left on his vacation trip Friday afternoon, only a few hours before the flames swept the 60-year-old home at South Aiden and Penn avenues.
He learned of the disaster in St. Louis, and late Saturday night, telephoned from that city to the offices of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, asking that the Post-Gazette's account of the fire be read to him.
While the story was being read, Bishop Boyle expressed horror at the number of deaths and injuries. He was deeply concerned for those rescued and in hospital, many of whom are suffering from severe shock as well as from injuries.
FUNDS FOR FIRE VICTIMS' RELIEF PLEDGED BY MANY
Clothing Also Given to Aged Inmates of Destroyed Home; Organization Formed to Handle Contributions; J. Rogers Flannery is Chairman
Money and clothing for the relief of the victims of the fire at the Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged, were being pledged by hundreds of individuals and organizations last night, even while a relief committee was being organized.
Several hundred dollars had been pledged or already sent to the relief committee by organizations, and individual contributions were expected to materially increase the fund.
J. Rogers Flannery was elected chairman of J. Dawson Callery treasurer of the committee organized to aid the victims, at a meeting yesterday afternoon in the clubrooms of the Pittsburgh Council of Catholic Women at 5216 Penn avenue, attended by more than 100 persons.
Flannery announced that the drive for relief funds would be started immediately. He said he would begin today to enlist the aid of prominent citizens in this appeal.
In his address at the organization meeting, Flannery pointed out that the home, though under Catholic directions, was non-sectarian in policy, and that its only requirement of those admitted was they be old and poor.
Miss Catherine A. O'Donnell, secretary of the Pittsburgh Council of Catholic Women, was named secretary of the committee, which is to be known as the Little Sisters of the Poor relief committee. Temporary headquarters will be at the Council of Catholic Women's headquarters at the Fifth avenue address, and all clothing and cash contributions should be sent there. The phone number at the headquarters is Montrose 9870.
Among the largest contributions to the find reported yesterday were three of $100 each, pledged by the Pennsylvania Auxillary No. 1, of the Eightieth Division Veterans' Association; the General Lloyd M. Brett Post of the same association, and the Twelfth Annual National Reunion committee of the Eightieth Division Veterans' Association. The three organizations voted unanimously to contribute the money.
KIN BELIEVE MISSING MAN BEING CARED FOR
Relatives of Henry Gelsite, one of the inmates of the Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged, who is among those reported missing, said yesterday that they believe he is being cared for by some resident of South Atlantic avenue. They asked that anyone knowing of his whereabouts notify morgue authorities.
AGED HERO IS UNSCATHED IN SAVING WIFE FROM FIRE
Hunting Each Other as Flames Raged in Little Sister for Poor Home, Couple Meet and Strong Old Arms Respond.
An aged couple who started through the smoke-filled halls of the Little Sisters of the Poor Home Friday night to save each other, were safe yesterday, because they met midway in the inferno, and because Dan Carlin's old arms still retained enough strength to carry his wife to safety.
Mrs. Sarah Carlin, 65, was resting comfortably in Homeopathic Hospital, where she was treated for effects of smoke. Dan was in the Northside home of the Little Sisters of the Poor, in Benton avenue, unscathed.
Friends told the story of how the devoted couple, seeking each other in the confusion of the holocaust, met just as Mrs. Carlin collapsed.
Mrs. Carlin, in a room on the fourth floor when the fire broke out, helped four other inmates in carrying out three bed-ridden companions. One of these, Bridget Dooley, protested and told her friends to save "Mama", an aged cripple in the next room, beloved by the inmates. Mrs. Dooley was in serious condition in Pittsburgh hospital yesterday. Another of the invalids, Bridget Reardon, was in West Penn hospital from the effects of smoke.
When the others were out, Mrs. Carlin, heedless of pleas to save herself, started for the men's quarters to find Dan. Dan started about the same time to find her.
Sister Pascalina, whose rescue work is credited with saving women living on the fourth floor of the building, was at work again yesterday, checking lists of inmates accounted and unaccounted for. She was taken to a hospital early Saturday, and later discharged.
VICTIMS OF FIRE
Clara Lenz, 70, died late yesterday in West Penn Hospital of burns and smoke inhalation. Body was claimed by relatives.
Mary Shumaker, 68, died in Homeopathic Hospital at 7:37 o'clock last night of shock.
Frederick Edelman, 75, identified by his son, Frederick Jr., of 217 Spring Street.
George A. Becker,53, identified by a friend, John E. Ridall, Jr., of 16 North Duquesne avenue, Duquesne.
Mary A.Hite, 67, identified by Nicholas E. Lyman, nephew, of 1404 Eighteenth avenue, Altoona
Cornelius Moore, 70, identified by his daughter Josephine Stewart, of 1114 Sunday street.
Martha Filey, 76, identified by Sarah Filey, a daughter-in-law, of 2121 Penn avenue.
Catherine Cansher, 59, identified by Elizabeth Flannery, a friend, of 216 Forty-fourth street.
Mary Waldier, 60, identified by Dennis, a son, of 2 Laxton place.
Mary Jacobs, 68, identified by Algie Jacobs, of 6733 Hedge street, a sister-in-law.
Catherine McGuire, 86, identified by a niece, Catherine Bradley, of 256 Melwood avenue.
Mary Thomas, 80, identified by her son, Ellsworth Roberts, of 15 Arlington avenue.
Gustave Moll, 70, identified by Rudolph Henne, a friend, of 605 North Beatty street.
Andrew Watermeyer, 71, identified by Mary M. Baker, a daughter, of 7135 Hermitage street.
Mrs. Rosie Lang, 71, identified by Thomas Carr, son-in-law, of 3934 Liberty avenue.
Catherine McIsaac, 77, identified by Charles R. Davis, of 6924 Bishop street, as his mother-in-law.
Mary McAvoy, 71, died in Homeopathic Hospital, identified by friends in the hospital. Proof of identity not yet given.
Mary Burns, 69, died in Homeopathic Hospital; gave her name and those of friends; proof not yet given.
Theresa Risinger, 81, identified by John Breneman, of 1315 West Washington street, New Castle, as his mother.
Bridget Shea, 72, died in Homeopathic Hospital; identified by friends before death; proof of identity not yet given.
Margaret Slattery, died in Homeopathic Hospital; identified by Nell McCann of 6007 Walnut street, a friend.
Mary McCarthy, 74, died in Pittsburgh Hospital; identified by friends, body turned over to undertaker.
Sara Ludden, 69, died in St. Francis Hospital; body turned over to undertaker.
Samuel Berry, 73, died in West Penn Hospital; body claimed by friends and turned over to undertaker.
Mary Connors, 66, of 5300 Penn avenue, died in West Penn Hospital, identified by relatives; body turned over to undertaker.
John Greer, 68, identified by a brother-in-law, Henry McClusky, of Washington, Pa.
Woffard J. Lynan, 73, identified by a cousin, John W. Lynan, 2032 East Ninetieth street, Cleveland
Henry Gilheizer, a cripple
Bridge Cloonan (body partly identified at morgue.)
Bridget Dooley, burns and smoke inhalation, condition serious.
George Relish, burns and smoke inhalation, condition serious.
Fireman Frank Kaminski, lacerations and bruises.
St. Francis Hospital
Martin Flaherty, soreness of left hip.
John McGuire, abrasion on left leg.
Gabriel Rouso, headache and throat irritation.
John J. Davis, contusion on right knee.
Thomas F. Conlon, sprained right shoulder, badly burned left wrist.
William A. Smith, inhalation of fumes.
John McShane, burned lips.
John Mawkoski, burns on both feet.
William Freund, abrasions on both knees.
Mike Connolly, inhalation of fumes
Anna Lobmeyer, inhalaltion of fumes.
Mary Keller, acute bronchitis.
Johanna Walker, overcome by smoke.
Johanna O'Leary, burns on right ankle and left foot.
Fireman William C. Grimm, probably fracture of left ankle.
Fireman William McLaughlin, lacerations on chest.
Fireman Joseph Coyne, No. 9, Engine company, overcome by smoke, burns on hands
Fireman George Bulger, sprained back.
Patrolman Joseph Ridge, head injuries.
Patrolman Harry Scott, fractures ribs
Sarah Carlin Annie Kennedy
Katherine Harkins Mary Kearns
Anna Platt Mary O'Brien
Margaret McVeich Mrs. Mary Mink
Paul Booth Marie Valletta
John Young Mary Shoemaker
Johanna York Bridget Shea
Annie McConville Katherine Toache
Helen Dalazento Louise Clark
Marcella Callahan Anna McCool
All above suffering from effects of smoke inhalation.
West Penn Hospital
Walter Grady, 28, 165 South Banner way, volunteer rescuer, lacerations and bruises.
John Enright George Whalen
Michael Schmidt Julis Levatch
Andrew Rohal Nick Kovich
David Maloney Margaret Cain
Margaret Hanrahan Miss Annie Ward
Catherine White Mrs. Annie Campbell
Unidentified Man Mrs. Catherine O'Mara
Mrs. Mary Regan Mrs. Amelia Smith
Miss Eva Frolich Mrs. Mary Little
Mrs. Lizzie Byers Mrs. Zacca Zabella
Mrs. Winnie Butler Mrs. Anna Lagley
Will Connoly William Bowers
James McNelis Hugh Ward
James Cavanaugh Miss Mary Horn
Mrs. Elizabeth Gray Mrs. Flora Leary
Mrs. Bridget Reardon Mrs. Anna Goettman
Mrs. Sadie Dice Mrs. Rose Lang
(All of the above suffering from effects of smoke inhalation.)
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 28, 1931
ALL BUT TWO VICTIMS FOUND
Three More Die of Injuries Received in Home Fire.
Though 10 charred bodies have not yet been definitely identified, all but two of the victims of the fire that swept through the Home for the Aged of the Little Sisters of the Poor Friday night, had been accounted for yesterday.
Three more victims of the disaster died yesterday in hospitals, bringing the total of dead to 42. They were:
Pauline Lutz, 80, died at St. Francis hospital of lobar pneumonia yesterday afternoon.
Jennie McConville, 69, died at West Penn hospital early yesterday.
Ella Callahan, died at Homeopathic hospital last night.
Four of the disfigured bodies had been tentatively identified as those of Michael Corrigan, Bridget Cloonan, Patrick Lannahan and Lucian Maranzino. But the identification was not official.
This left six bodied unidentified. There were eight persons yet to be accounted for on the roster of the Home for the Aged, and six of these eight victims were lying in the morgue, with no apparent way of determining who they were, or who the two inmates were of whom neither county authorities nor officials of the home had obtained any trace.
But their bodies were not found among the ruins and ashes of the destroyed home, it was declared by Coroner W. J. McGregor after a visit there yesterday.
Patrick Lannahan, whose body was partly identified at the morgue, was the victim of a grim mistake. When the hospitals submitted their reports to the coroner, Lannahan was listed as a patient at the West Penn Hospital. But this was contradicted as the morgue rechecked the records. An investigation was made and the hospital reported that Lannahan was not there.
Later nuns in charge of the home submitted Lannahan's name tentatively as one of those lying in the morgue.
In a gruesome but with a more [unreadable] was the jest fate of Kate Mullen, though to be one of the first of those [unreadable] under whose name [unreadable] charred bodies at the [unreadable] identified time and again [unreadable]
[much of the balance unreadable]
With eight names still to be accounted for and four of them belonging to [unreadable] remains at the morgue… Anna Carroll, Jo….., Henry Giltheiser, …..McAvoy, Daniel…… Mrs. Roller.
Identification of the bodies continued yesterday, as relatives and friends … through the morgue … of some victims of the flames.
Hon. Hugh C. Boyle of the Catholic diocese, arriving in Pittsburgh last night, visited the …. yesterday, in company with Leo Gattis, insurance company of the Catholic diocese……
Bishop Boyle announced that a more fireproof structure would be built in place of the old building that was destroyed. He said the diocese would finance the …. and attempt to raise the rest by popular subscription later.
Relief Plans Taken Up
…Augustine, of … head of the Province of the Little Sisters of the Poor in …Pittsburgh is included, ….yesterday upon relief for the nearly 200 aged men and women made homeless by the fire.
…Richard L. Smith …with Safety Director …. M. Clark upon the … state legislation …. adequate fire prevention … in all institutions.
Resolution is Adopted
… Harry A. Little presented a resolution in council, which was unanimously adopted and which…. the dreadful catastrophe … the city of Pittsburgh… fire at the Home of the Little Sisters of the Poor, Aiken and Penn avenues has called attention …facilities for alarming….of such institutions… in case of fires, and…every effort should be made to guard against….catastrophe…
Thanks Those Who Aided
Hugh Boyle issued a statement thanking those who aided in the … of the aged inmates of the home…
"The most impressive thing to my mind in this terrible disaster is the …kindness of those who tried to help the poor aged people … It is an event like this that brings out the very best in … There are volunteer …young men who had no …mind but to help, lying in hospitals. The policemen, …the hospitals did wonderful … and the response of … to help has been very….
…plans were being made…a funeral mass for the…. and those who had relatives to bury them. Bishop… and William J. McMullen of …. Cathedral, where the mass will be said, conferred on it …. The date will probably …
[picture] The bell clapper, which daily sounded the hour of worship for men and women at the Little Sisters of the Poor Home, tolled its last message Friday night to warn sleepers of the fire which swept the building. Rapidly spreading flames soon reached the top of the building, causing the roof to fall and the bell tower to crash. Above is seen Patrolman James J. Brosnan, of East End police station, examining what is left of the bell among ruins of the interior.
STRIKING CABMEN FORGET ANIMOSITY TO AID FIRE HURT
One of the 23 taxicabs sent to the Little Sisters of the Poor Home to carry injured inmates to hospitals during the fire was stopped by two striking cab drivers.
"Don't stop me now, buddy," pleaded the driver of the car to one of the men who mounted the running board, "I'm going out to haul some of the old people hurt in the fire at the home."
The two strikers crawled into the rear seat and told the driver to take them with him, assuring him he would not be harmed. At the grounds of the home for the aged, they helped him to place injured in the cab.
St. John's General Hospital
Sister Beatrice, suffering shock.
John McDonnell, suffering shock.