Sunday is St. Patrick's Day, and on that day in New York City 120 years ago, tragedy struck at the Windsor Hotel. After one careless guest attempted to flick a still-flaming match out of a window, a massive blaze engulfed the luxury hotel, killing 45 people. I wrote about the fire for the "Looking Back" article in the March/April issue of NFPA Journal.
A number of disastrous conditions collided to drive up the death toll in the fire. The noise of the St. Patrick's Day parade occurring outside of the hotel made warning guests and authorities of the danger difficult. Outdated construction methods used to build the hotel, at the time 26 years old, contributed to rapid fire spread. The building lacked fire escapes. And the fire hydrant water supply in the city was inadequate.
Read the full article, which includes quotes from a 1930 NFPA Quarterly article, or listen to an audio version of the story here.