Paterson, NJ Hotel Fire, Oct 1984

Paterson NJ Hamilton Hotel.jpg


Paterson, N.J. (AP) -- A fire started by a disgruntled employee swept through an eight story residence hotel early today, trapping some residents and forcing others to jump from windows authorities said. Fifteen people were killed and 55 injured.
A part-time employee who had argued with the night manager of the 60-year-old Hotel Alexander Hamilton was arrested in the case, said Mayor Frank X. Graves, Jr.
RUSSELL WILLIAM CONKLIN, 44, was being held at the city jail pending arraignment on charges of aggrivated arson and murder, said police Capt. William E. Dolan. Authorities said only one murder charge was filed initially.
Fire Capt. Domenick Cotroneo said 15 people had died in the blaze.
The blaze broke out about 12:15 a.m. in the 150-room downtown hotel occupied by about 300 permanent residents and transients, many of them clients of "various agencies of government," Graves said. The fire was under control at 3:40 a.m.
"There are deaths and there are injuries and there are still people in there," the mayor said. Most of the dead were elderly, and at least 55 people were taken to local hospitals, he said.
Some residents jumped from windows, some climbed to safety on firefighters' ladders and others were rescued from the roof, authorities said. The injuries included smoke inhalation, broken bones and burns.
"People were screaming, trying to tie sheets and blankets together to get out the windows," said LUSYLVIA RIVERA, 33, who fled with her three children from a first-floor room. "The ones who were more scared just went ahead and jumped."
Flames were shooting from fourth-floor windows when firefighters arrived at the scene, and smoke still bellowed from the building hours later.

The Capital Annapolis Maryland 1984-10-18