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Our Lady of the Angels (OLA) School Fire, December 1, 1958
OLA Fire Period News Articles
(These stories have been reproduced as accurately as possible from the original news reports, including original errors)
90 Die In School Fire (12/1/58)
74 Hurt, Blast Traps Scores (12/1/58)
Tough Chicago Police Weep At The Tragic, Tiny Bundles (12/1/58)
Tom Feared Sight Of Death's Mask (12/1/58)
Margaret Was a Little Girl Who Didn't Like to Be Sick (12/1/58)
Joe Wasn't Hurt, He Saw Only Horror (12/1/58)
Sobbing Nun Tells of Horror In School Fire (12/1/58)
Parish Families Seek Children (12/1/58)
Man, 74, Stricken Helping Children (12/1/58)
F.B.I. Ready to Assist Chicago Fire Inquire (12/1/58)
Panic Grips Classrooms; Confusion Increases Toll (12/1/58)
Everybody was Jumping (12/1/58)
List of Identified Dead In Chicago School Fire (12/1/58)
Fire Gong Tolled A Deadly Message (12/1/58)
Frantic Dad Tells Fire Rescue Role (12/1/58)
85 Youngsters Still Hospitalized; Blaze 3rd Worst In 100 Years (12/2/58)
Smoldering School Ruins Like A Cavern Of Death (12/2/58)
87 Children, 3 Nuns Die in School Fire (12/2/58)
Probers of Fire Ask: Why? (12/2/58)
Schoolboy Smoking Cigaret Might Have Touched Off Fire (12/2/58)
One Family's Story (12/2/58)
Throng Just Waits, Looks (12/2/58)
The Morgue (12/2/58)
School Fire Chicago's Worst in 55 Years (12/2/58)
“I'll Remember It to My Dying Day,” Says Fireman (12/2/58)
Chronology Shows Speed of Disaster (12/2/58)
Girl Recalls Burning Backs Of Classmates (12/2/58)
Chicago Presses Search for Clues to Fire At School (12/2/58)
'I Won't Give Up Hope,' Says Father (12/2/58)
Boy Who Jumped Tells of Tragedy (12/2/58)
Pope John Wires Condolences to Bereaved Kin (12/2/58)
Arson Squad to Probe Fire in School Last Year (12/2/58)
“It's Just Too Much,” Laments Archbishop (12/2/58)
Hospitals Work Around Clock to Relieve Injured (12/2/58)
Other School Tragedies (12/2/58)
Moscow Says School Fire No Accident (12/2/58)
Memories of Horror Rack School Janitor (12/2/58)
How Fireman Feels Carrying Out Victims (12/3/58)
Third Worst In Nation (12/3/58)
Priests Try Vainly To Comfort Bereaved Relatives And Parents (12/3/58)
Struggle to Save Fire Survivors Continues (12/3/58)
Gigantic IFs Jolt Probers Digging Into Fire Mystery (12/3/58)
Fire Leads to School Checkups (12/3/58)
Rites Held for Nuns Killed in School Fire (12/4/58)
10,000 Mourners at Funeral Of Three Nuns Killed in Fire (12/4/58)
Mass Offered for 28 Small Victims of Fire (12/5/58)
Fire Victim's Souls Commended to God (12/5/58)
91st Chicago Victim Of School Fire Dies (12/6/58)
500 Children Face Questioning In School Fire (12/6/58)
Bereaved Families Mourn in Chicago (12/7/58)
9-Year-Old Boy Dies, Raises Chicago School Fire Toll to 92 (12/8/58)
Boy Becomes 92d Victim of Chicago Fire (12/8/58)
School Fire Horror Probed (12/11/58)
Chicago School Afire Long Before 1st Alarm (12/11/58)
Terror, Torment Related by School Fire Victims (12/13/58)
Girl Fire Victim, 9, Wonders Why Cards Have Stopped Coming (12/14/58)
Fire. Thirty-Eight O Eight Iowa...The Alarm Was Desperate, the Tragedy Incredible! (12/15/58)
Nightmare in the News (12/15/58)
Disasters - The Chicago School Fire (12/15/58)
How Safe Are The Schools (12/15/58)
Fire Hazards Found At 2 City Schools
Two Schools To Be Closed As Fire Risks
Texas School Tragedy Of 294 Dead Recalled
$50,000? So What?
Erect Fireproof School Building (11/30/59)
City Cleared As Defendant In School Fire (7/19/60)
New School Open (9/60)
Considered prime suspect in Chicago blaze (1/16/1962)
Boy Admits Fire Fatal To 95 (1/16/62)
Judge Rips Lie Tester On Boy's Story Of Fire (1/16/1966)
Cicero Won't Let Police Talk to Youth (1/16/1962)
Lad Cleared in School Fire (3/13/62)
Memories stay forever - Our Lady of Angels fire survivor (11/83)
'Born fireman' wanted to be part of the action (6/1/2003)
Joe Wasn't Hurt, He Saw Only Horror
CHICAGO, Dec. 1 - (AP) - “I can't stop shaking.”
Joseph Brocato, 11, said this to a doctor who stopped Monday afternoon to look at him in busy St. Anne's Hospital where victims of the Our Lady of the Angels Parochial School fire were brought.
The words gushed out.
“We heard it. We were emptying the wastebasket in the basement.
“It was a boom in the furnace room. And the janitor ran out.
“He shouted to get upstairs.”
Herded to Safety
Joseph and his companion - he didn't name the other boy - ran upstairs. They were herded out of the school. Later his father brought him into the hospital because the shaking wouldn't stop.
Joseph wasn't burned. He didn't have to jump. He only saw the horror.
It was a heart-breaking thing as firemen carried victims down into the milling throng of youngsters and older people. Clothes were burned off of some of the charred bodies of boys and girls.
It began with deceptive excitement. There was the noise, and some smoke.
A priest, Father Joseph Ognoibene(sic), said he drove up to the school shortly after the fire began.
“I thought it was a fire drill. Then I saw the smoke and knew it was the real thing,” he said.
The trapped children were mostly seventh and eighth graders whose classrooms were on the second floor.
While ambulances and fire trucks jammed the street, and mothers sought frantically for their children, Mrs. Mary Jalowietki stood weeping outside her house across the street from the school.
Children Lead
“I saw the kids come out of the school,” she told a reporter. “My son, Ronald, was one of the first out.” The boy was unhurt.
Again she sobbed.
“The kids on the second floor were leaping out the windows. At least 10 jumped. This was after I went into the school. It was full of black smoke. The smoke hit me and I came right back.
“And there they were - five or six sitting or laying on the ground. They were full of blood. It was awful.”
Thomas Raymond, 12, who was trapped briefly in an eighth grade classroom on the second floor, said he and several classmates were rescued by firemen who lifted a ladder to the window.
“We thought at first that the yells came from some kids playing in the corridor,” he said. “Then, we heard someone shout: 'Fire! Fire!”
He said the fire bell rang, and his teacher said, “Get up and get out fast.”
Raymond said he was the last of the class to reach the corridor.
“There was lots of smoke,” he said. “I couldn't breathe or nothing. I was going to jump, but just then some girls came in. I told them to get down on the floor because of the smoke.”
“I kept thinking how I'd look dead,” Raymond said. He was not hurt.