Cedar Rapids, IA Clifton House Destroyed, Feb 1903

Circa 1902 Cedar Rapids

BURN TO DEATH IN HOTEL FIRE.

MANY KILLED AND INJURED IN CEDAR RAPIDS HOLOCAUST.

CLIFTON HOUSE BURNS.

STRUCTURE TOTALLY WRECKED -- MANY JUMP FROM UPPER WINDOWS.

PITIFUL AND SICKENING SIGHTS FOLLOW JUMPS FOR LIFE -- INJURED REMOVED TO IMPROMPTU HOSPITALS -- DELEGATES TO CONVENTION WERE GUESTS.

(By Associated Press)
Cedar Rapids, Feb. 20. -- Between fifteen and twenty persons were burned to death and twice that number were seriously injured in the fire that destroyed the Clifton hotel at 2 o'clock this morning. There were 120 guests in the hotel when the fire broke out. Most of the dead are buried in the debris. Owing to the destruction of the hotel register, the names of the missing have not yet been obtained.
The Dead.
The dead are:
W. A. MOWREY, of What Cheer.
An Unknown Woman.
Fatally Injured.
The fatally injured are:
TINA BURNS, waitress.
G. C. BURNTET of Nebraska City, Neb.
DR. C. GROVE of Cedar Rapids.
Conductor P. E. STRICKLAND of Caton jumped from a third story window. His leg was broken and he was injured internally.
The Injured.
The seriously injured are:
SINDA WILLIAMS; LIZZIE KELLY; EMMA SMITH; BEATRICE NETOLICKY; CELIA WILLIAMS; and MAY REEL, all waitresses.
F. C. OUTING, of Center Point.
W. H. BREMER, of Lyon.
C. H. MOORE, of Chicago.
M. U. WINNINGER, of Waterloo.
M. E. ANDERSON, of Chicago.
A. S. FARROW, of Boone.
T. G. GARDINER, of Woodburn.
D. F. TAYLOR, of Davenport, head inijured, elbow fractured, hip injured and bruised about body.
The following persons were slightly injured:
LOUIS THOMPSON, of Cedar Rapids.
C. W. ROBERTS, of Cedar Rapids.
A. M. LARSEN, of Oelwein.
L. O. VERNON, of Delta.
N. P. HOOVER, Tama, Ia.
T. J. ZALLY, Canton, Ill.
E. A. ELYARD, of Davenport.
C. L. BENEDICT and C. P. HAWES, of Decorah.
T. O. REDMOND, a mail clerk, of Tama.
N. O. TEMPLETON, of Monticello.
JAMES LEWIS (colored).
J. M. DUNBAR, of Monticello.
JOHN W. LEWIS, of Ottumwa.
C. F. HAMBURG, Leroy, Minn.
R. C. M'CONAHY, Aurora, Ill.
O. J. LAMB, Center Point, Ia.
S. F. KAESSER, Walker, Ia.
C. A. ROSELAND, of Independence, Ia.
F. A. CHASE.

Blaze Started In Basement.
The fire is supposed to have originated in the basement, presumably from an electric wire. Night Clerk WILSON was on the third floor at the time the flames were discovered by the bell boy and by the time he had been notified and the work of sounding the alarm was begun, the ways of escape from the ground floor was cut off.
Flee In Night Clothes.
Instantly there were scores of faces in the windows. Guests clad only in their night clothes calling wildly for help appeared in the windows of the upper stories.
Panic Increases.
The facilities of the fire department are exceedingly meager and each moment's delay served only to increase the panic that already prevailed.
Jump From Windows.
In the pandemonium that reigned one after another of the human forms were seen to hurl themselves from the windows of the upper stories and crash against the pavement below. Limbs were broken by the fall and the writhing mass of humanity that rapidly accumulated constituted a most sickening and pitiful sight.
Care For Injured.
As rapidly as rescuers could reach the injured they were conveyed to adjoining business houses that had been converted into impromptu hospitals.
Delegates Are Injured.
The state Y.M.C.A. convention and the district Knights of Pythias convention are in progress here and the delegates to these meetings constitute the majority of the injured and missing.
Ten Still Missing.
At 10 o'clock all but ten of the missing had been accounted for. These are supposed to lie underneath the debris, although it is possible that they may be located among the rescued. The ruins are still burning and it is impossible to search for the bodies.
Two Bodies Recovered.
The bodies of W. A. MOWREY of What Cheer, Ia., and an unknown woman were taken from the ruins at 11 o'clock. The bodies were frightfully charred. Searchers are now at work in the ruins.
Said To Be Fire Trap.
The hotel was a three story brick veneer structure, and it is said to have been a veritable fire trap. The flames started in a pile of rubbish in the basement, presumably ignited by defective electric light wires. The flames spread with such rapidity the victims were literally driven to jump from the windows.
Falls Broken By Wires.
Nearly every one of them lingered to the last moment, urged by the people below to wait as long as possible in the hope of assistance. Some who jumped own their lives to the fact that their falls were broken by the telegraph wires which interposed in their downward flight.
Chained To Scene.
Those first to escape, where they were not too severely injured, stood for some time barefooted in the snow, chained to the spot and rendered unconscious of the cold by the horror of the scene. Many of them had to be led away.
Stumbled Over Bodies.
Those who were able to converse calmly declared that they stumbled over prostrate bodies as they rushed to the windows.
Find More Bodies.
Three more bodies have been removed from the ruins. Their condition was such as to preclude identification. Three or four of the injured are believed to be dying.

Ottumwa Daily Courier Iowa 1903-02-20

Comments

Clifton House Fire

How did the government respond, any required safety protocols?