Lady of Angels School
On the afternoon of December 1, 1958, a small fire started in a trash can in the basement boiler room at Our Lady of Angels School in Chicago. With no smoke detection or sprinkler system, the small fire grew unabated for an estimated 15-30 minutes. What could have been a minor incident became an epic tragedy when the fire spread quickly up a stairway to upper floors. Once notified, fire fighters were on the scene within minutes but there was little they could do.
A total of 95 children and nuns were killed and 75 more people injured. The sorrow created by this preventable tragedy prompted research into new smoke detection technologies and laws that have saved countless lives in the decades since.