Story of one of the deadliest fires in American history that in 1958 took the lives of ninety-two children and three nuns at a Catholic elementary school in Chicago.
On December 1, 1958, a fire at Our Lady of the Angels School in Chicago killed 92 pupils, most between the ages of nine and 12, and three nuns. This deeply affecting account of that tragedy by two Illinois journalists recreates the horror that destroyed a school and parish. The causes of the tragedy were manifold: outdated fire laws that permitted an edifice built before 1908 to escape a code passed in 1949 to insure safer schools; severe overcrowding; delay in reporting the fire; nuns ordering their pupils to pray rather than try to escape. Nor did municipal and archdiocesan officials help matters, their philosophy being that the fire was best forgotten; when a former student admitted to setting the blaze, they tried to conceal his confession. One positive result of the fire were the safety improvements made in 16,500 U.S. school buildings within a year. Photos not seen by PW.