Houston, TX Gulf Hotel Destroyed By Fire, Sep 1943
48 DIE IN FIRE THAT DESTROYS SMALL HOTEL IN DOWNTOWN HOUSTON.
Houston, Tex., Sept. 7. (SP) -- Forty-eight men perished when fire swept a small, ancient hotel here today.
Forty-four of them never got out of the three-story Gulf Hotel at Preston and Louisiana streets in midtown Houston. Justice of the Peace W. C. REGAN said evidence indicated that nearly all of the screaming, terrified victims trapped in the burning structure, were suffocated or asphyxiated before they were burned.
They died fighting to get down the one fire escape not blocked off by the flames. Two died in hospitals. Thirty-two were injured and 16 of these were released after treatment. Some of the men were near death from their burns.
It was Houston's worst fire and the costliest disaster in the state since the New London schoolhouse explosion which took 294 young lives March 18, 1937.
"It was the most horrible thing that I have ever seen in my career," said Assistant Fire Chief GEORGE RICHARDSON, 30 eyars[sic] a fireman.
Men screamed in agony when LLOYD BROWN reached the scene of the fire.
"I saw men crawling down the fire escape," he related. "Some of them didn't have clothes on. I saw others run down the stairway and out into the street. Many of those were unclothed also."
City Detective H. R. BLANCHARD shuddered over the scene of a man leaping from the second floor to land on an awning and pitch out onto the sidewalk. "He was burned and crushed," BLANCHARD said.
The building housing the hotel, one of the oldest here, had many wooden partitions, accounting for the fact that it burned so quickly, said H. L. MATTHEWS, deputy fire marshal.
Cause of the blaze had not been determined.
The hotel, located on the second and third floors of the three-story building, was used mostly by transients but a number of regular tenants also were registered there. Some were old men, some were cripples.
Few of the dead men had been identified.