Report on Lady of Angels Fire

Essay by laixu4High School, 11th gradeA+, March 2003

download word file, 2 pages 5.0

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This Documentary narrated the tragedy of the Our Lady of Angels School. On December 1st, 1958, at the end of the day, as students waited for the final bell, a fire raged unnoticed in the northeast stairwell. By the time they became aware of it, the fire has rampaged the second floor. Trapped students were propelled to make the painful decision between jumping out of the window and remaining inside the raging inferno. Firefighters and other rescuers soon arrived, but they weren't able to save all; ninety-two students and three nuns lost their lives.

As a result, the community started seeking scapegoats. People first blamed the janitor for setting the fire, when no evidence was found; they blamed the nuns, who encouraged the students to say rosary rather than escape. Most of all, they accused the school for not having sprinklers and proper emergency exits. The school was not prosecuted, however, since they were exempted from the fire code because of the Grandfather Clause, which allowed old schools to have the choice of not installing fire sprinklers.

The film also revealed a shocking confession by a 10-year-old boy. The boy was claimed to have an obsession with fire and had a history of arson. Later the boy himself confessed to have set the fire, but he was found innocent by the judges primarily because the school was afraid to take responsibilities. The school was afraid that if the boy were found guilty, people would accuse the school for accepting such a criminal child and not keeping an eye on him.

When investigation on this incident ended, the National Fire Protection Association commented that there were no new lessons to be learned, only old lessons that tragically went unheeded. This tragedy did, however, did propel many ill-equipped schools to improve...