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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)
New School Open
Little Tom Cleary, 9, brushed a tear from his cheek as he walked into the new Our Lady of the Angels school this morning.
“He's still upset about what happened.” explained his mother. Mrs. Grace Cleary of 1046 N. Pulaski rd., as she nudged him toward his fourth grade classroom.
For the first time since Dec. 1, 1958, when 92 pupils and three nuns were killed in Chicago's worst school fire, Tom and his 1,500 classmates are together again under one roof.
The handsome million dollar structure, built on the site of the old school at 3816 W. Iowa st. as a memorial to those who lost their lives in the fire, opened today for the first time.
Built of tan brick and reinforced concrete, its architects call it Chicago's safest school.
“This is it,” beamed Msgr. Joseph F. Cussen proudly as he took a reporter on a tour of the three story building. He pointed out.
“Look. Except for classroom doors there's not a piece of wood in the school. Everything's metal—desks, lockers, all the furniture.” The pastor said he planned no special ceremony for the occasion.
Other Schools
“We just want to get started again,” he added.
Since the tragic fire, parish pupils have been attending classes in three nearby public school buildings— Hay, Orr, and Cameron.
“The public school people were just wonderful to us,” said Sister St. Florence, the principal, as she registered new pupils. “But we're happy to be back together again.”
For some it was a day of sad memories. Theresa Whittaker and Marie Hartman, the most seriously injured survivors of the fire, rejoined their seventh grade classmates for the first time. Until now they have been “attending “ classes by telephone as they recovered in their homes.
Recalls Tragedy
Karen Cascio, 12. of 3748 W. Thomas st., remembers the fire vividly.
“We were trapped in our room for quite a while,” she told a reporter outside her new 8th grade classroom. “Then one of the boys broke window and pulled down the fire escape.
“He ran for help and the janitor came and broke down our door with an ax. Everyone escaped.”
Stairwalls Inclosed
Aside from the fireproof construction, the school has the latest fire safety and alarm equipment. All stair wells are inclosed by heavy metal doors.
At strategic locations thru-out the building are smoke and heat rise detectors that set off an automatic fire alarm.
At the end of each corridor a red fire alarm lever within each reach of the shortest child.
And outside on the sidewalk is a shiny, new fire alarm box, number 25539.
The box sets off an automatic alarm in the fire alarm office and in the school. Due for All School.
Such boxes are being installed outside every school in Chicago as a result of the city's new fire code adopted after the Our Lady of the Angels fire.
The box on Iowa street is guarded during school hours by a patrol boy.
“You know, it's been pulled five times already by pranksters,” explained Msgr. Cussen. “And every time that alarm goes off we get an awful lot of engines.”
(Article contributed by Sally Konley)