Chicago, IL Barton Hotel Fire, Feb 1955
21 DEAD, 14 HURT IN SKID ROW HOTEL FIRE.
ALCOHOLIC MAY HAVE BEEN CAUSE.
'HUMAN TORCH' THEORY ADVANCED BY HOTEL'S CLERK.
Chicago -- (AP) -- At least 21 men were killed and 14 were injured today in a fire that raced through the Barton hotel on Skid Row on West Madison street.
Firemen said another body had been sighted in the wreckage of the five-story building, which contained 365 4 by 6 foot cubby holes for transients.
Some of the other 245 residents scurried outside into zero temperatures without shoes or socks to protect them from the icy streets. Others were carried down ladders by firemen.
C. W. HARVEY, the hotel's night clerk, said the fire may have started from a human torch. JOE ARMATZO, about 70, a persioner, started to scream in his cubicle on the second floor and ran out covered with flames.
ARMATZO habitually used rubbing alcohol, hotel officials said, and might have been using the rubbing alcohol while smoking.
Fought Four Hours.
Firemen fought the flames for nearly four hours in zero temperatures and a 20 mile wind before bringing it under control. At least two firemen were among the injured.
ANTHONY DYKES, 45, a janitor at the hotel, told police the first alarm of the fire came from an unidentified man on the second floor. The cause of the blaze was not immediately determined.
Coroner WALTER McCARRON said he would make a "thorough" investigation of conditions at the hotel. He said he was "appalled" by the fact that 245 persons were permitted to live in the four stories of the hotel.
When the blaze threatened to spread to another hotel -- the Famous hotel -- 20 persons, including a baby, were forced to flee.
Dixon Evening Telegraph Illinois 1955-02-12