Goulds, NF Nursing Home Blaze, Dec 1976


St. John's, Canada (AP) -- Fire roared through a two-story nursing home in a rural Newfoundland village early Sunday, killing at least 20 persons, authorities reported. THey said the victims included a 105-year-old woman and a teenaged boy.
Fire fighters searched for more bodies after removing the charred remains of a score of victims
from the ashes of the wood frame building that was home to as many as 30 elderly persons, most of them women.
Strong winds whipped up the flames that consumed the rest home after the fire broke out in the 60-year-old structure about 1:30 a.m.
Firemen, hampered by subzero weather and a lack of water hydrants, chopped through six inches of ice on a nearby pond to get water to fight the blaze, officials said.
They reported the building was englufed by flames when firemen arrived in Goulds, six miles south of this provicial capital, about 15 minutes after the blaze began.
JOHN LEE, a resident of the farming village, said the building collapsed an hour after the fire broke out, and "there was no sound or sign of life."
Fire fighters continued pumping water on the blaze
until daylight when the embers had cooled enough
to begin a body search.
Assistant Chief Leroy Soper of the St. John's Fire Department said all the elderly residents in Chafe's Rest Home were killed. LEWIS DUNPHY,
who operated the home, and two members of his family escaped unharmed, police said.
Soper told reporters he did not know how many of the 25 to 30 permanent residents were in the private home at the time because some may have been away visiting relatives for Christmas.
Authorities said one of the victims was a 16-year-old boy who owas among several young persons visiting relatives at the home.
The fire was believed to have started at the rear of the building near a propane gas tank. Fire Commissioner Frank Ryan said he was investigating "but I have no cause for the fire as yet."
The nursing home fire was one of the worst fire disasters in recent Canadian history. A fire in a home for the elderly killed 40 persons in the Quebec town of Notre Dame du Lac in 1969. Thirty-seven persons died in 1972 when a fire bomb was thrown into a cafe in Montreal.
Sunday's blaze followed a hotel fire and an explosion in a recreation center that killed a total of nine persons in eastern Canada on Chirstmas Day.
Officials said flames that swept through the Wentworth Arms hotel in downtown Hamilton, Ontario, killed six persons. A police spokesman reported arson was suspected. He said Vaught Andrew Copp, a 26-year-old Ottawa man, had been arrested and charged with six counts of first-degree murder. The spokesman declined to elaborate.
Officials said a propane tank behind the community recreation center in the small Nova Scotia town of New Waterford exploded, ripping out the rear wall of the building and killing three maintenance workers inside.

The Charleston Gazette West Virginia 1976-12-27