Providence, RI Dormitory Fire Kills Seven, Dec 1977


Providence, R. I. (AP) -- A fire apparently touched off by a hair-dryer swept through the fourth floor of a women's dormitory at Providence College early today, killing seven women and injuring at least 15 others, fire officials said.
Two of the women died when they jumped from their window onto the frozen, snow covered ground, just seconds before firefighter's could have reached them with a safety ladder, authorities said.
Hundreds of other residents of Aquinas Hall were forced out into the cold night air after the first alarm was sounded at 2:56 a. m. The fire was controlled about an hour later.
Hours after the blaze was extinguished, the death toll was reported at eight, but a further check showed only seven had died.
Fire officials said the blaze was limited to the top floor of the four-story dormitory. One investigator, who asked that his name not be used, said the blaze apparently started in a closet where a coed was drying her clothes with a hair dryer.
LEO TRAMBUKIS, Providence public safety commissioner, said six of the victims either died in the dorm or when they jumped from their rooms. A seventh was dead on arrival at Roger Williams Hospital in Providence.
The fire investigator said two of the three girls sharing the room where the fire started jumped to their deaths from a window. The third was rescued by firefighters using a ladder truck.
"If they (the two girls who jumped) had waited five more seconds, they would have been saved," the investigator said.
Officials at Roger Williams Hospital, said nine coeds were brought there, including the one who died en route. Four other students were taken to Rhode Island Hospital and one went to Miriam Hospital.
Several of the women were listed in serious condition.
About 4,100 students attend the college, which is the only institution of higher education operated by the Dominican Fathers, a Catholic order of priests.
The deaths prompted school officials to close the school through Jan. 9 and reschedule semester examinations after that date. "We're more concerned about the tragedy than the exams," said JOE McALEER, Providence College spokesman.

Sentinel and Enterprise Fitchburg Massachusetts 1977-12-13


Sallyann Garvey

Sallyann Garvey was a sweet, beautiful young woman who excelled at everything she did. She was raised in Enfield CT and was a 1977 graduate of Enfield High School. She was
badly burned in the dormitory fire Dec. 13, 1977. She succumbed to her injuries 14 days later, Tuesday Dec. 27, 1977 at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas.


I was a security officer on that tragic evening at Providence College. I was 20 years old and remeber that day like yesterday. I go everyday to the coner of Aquinas Hall and say a prayer for each of the victims. I had many sleepless nights but God has helpeme heal, A special THank you to the Providence Fire department that evening for the efforts

God Bless each and everyone of them

I will not ever forget that night nor will I forget thje families of these girls in my prayers.

Thank God, I am still at Providence College, its a great school.

God Bless

Steve, could you share any

Steve, could you share any memories that you have of Debbie Smith. It was a great loss.

The girl you are referring

The girl you are referring to is my sister-in-law.
Her name is Donna Galligan (not Gallagher).

Steve, I knew Debbie Smith.

Steve, I knew Debbie Smith. She was a wonderful person. Can you tell me what you remember most about here. Was she a junior.

I met her the weekend before

I met her the weekend before Nd I thought she was great. It was an unbelievable night. I lived in Joes Hall in the 3rd floor directly across 2 girls jumped 10 feet from us.

Deborah Ann Smith

Does anyone remember one of the girls who died that night named Deborah Ann Smith. She was a wonderful girl.

Name Correction

Her last name wasn't Gallagher. It was Galligan.

Yes, it was.

Yes, it was.

hello, could you tell me if

hello, could you tell me if the girl's last name was Gallagher? thanx