Milwaukee, WI Hotel Fire, Feb 1948

Milwaukee WI  Martin Hotel Fire.jpg



Milwaukee -- (UP) -- Prompt action by Milwaukee firemen Monday night averted a serious hotel tragedy and enabled more than 140 residents and guests of the Martin hotel to escape from the smoke filled 6-floor structure.
The fire, believed to have started among paint shelves in the basement under the hotel entrance, was the first 5-alarm blaze in the city's history, and attracted every piece of fire fighting equipment available.
Firemen rescued 40 persons by ladders, some of them on stretchers, while the others filed out of the hotel in orderly fashion. There was no panic at any time, according to Fire Chief EDWARD WISCHER.
Traffic was halted as tens of thousands onlookers jammed the downtown streets in the vicinity of the hotel, located at E. Wisconsin ave., and N. Cass st.
Eleven persons were hospitalized by the fire, and county emergency hospital attendants said early today that eight still were in the hospital, all of them reported "improved."
The hospital reported most of the eight were suffering from the effects of smoke.
The first alarm was sounded at 7:41 p.m. by LEO MERANDA, a third floor resident of the 50 year old hotel.
MERANDA'S call brought WISCHER personally, and he turned in the second alarm. The other three alarms followed.
Damage to the hotel was unofficially estimated at $30,000, according to WISCHER.
Some of the guests were carried down ladders, while HAROLD DELAPORTE, 49, suffering from a broken leg, was removed from a third floor room in a stretcher.
One of the victims was lowered by a rope in a canvas bag. Many of the guests were elderly persons, several of them over 80, according to hotel officials.
WISCHER said panic was averted at the fire because his men were instructed to caution persons to remain in their rooms until ladders could be sent up.
One woman was heard to scream as though panic stricken but she was quieted by firemen.

Wisconsin State Journal Madison 1948-02-24