Pittsburgh, PA Little Sisters of the Poor Home For Aged Disastrous Fire, July 1931
Without the assistance of the many volunteers most of them young men from the nearby balloon field district of the city, firemen would have been unable to cope with the situation. Scores of neighbors who hurried to the home as the first cry of "fire" was heard said they were unable to enter the grounds because heavy iron gates to the sidewalk and drive way were closed.
Many of the volunteer rescuers scaled the high stone walls about the institution and firemen arriving a few minutes later battered down the gates to get equipment inside.
In some instances ladders placed against the walls of the building were burned away before firemen could mount them. Then the life nets were brought out and many of the aged occupants whom firemen could not reach jumped to safety.
All Records Of Home Saved.
Fire department officials said that all records containing the names of the home's residents had been saved and with the air of these records they started a final check on the dead and missing.
The cause of the fire has not been determined. From the first floor where it apparently started, it spread rapidly to other sections of the home.
Oxygen was administered on the lawn to many of the victims and beside them reposed hly images salvaged by the faithful on occasion at the risk of their lives. MRS. MARGARET CONNELL, 75, one of the many who tried to aid feeble and ill fellow-inmates to safety told how women battled against suffocation and heat.
Aged Woman Describes Holocaust.
"We were almost suffocating," MRS. CONNELL said. "The women had to run from window to window for air. Sister PASCALINO in charge of the floor made them stick their heads out and breathe before going on. There were no lights and the heat on the floor was intense. I felt too weak to go on. I sand back on a bed and a fireman carried me out."
Sister PASCALINO remained at her post directing rescue efforts and refused to leave until the floor was cleared.
One body was taken from the ruins appeared to be that of a nun. It was clad in block clothes not unlike that of a habit. A number of other sisters collapsed while bringing inmates from the doomed structure.
A score or more of priests from various parts of the city risked their lives in the flaming home to administer last rites to the dying.
The Morning Herald Uniontown Pennsylvania 1931-07-25
DEATH TOLL IN PITTSBURGH HOME FOR AGED HOLOCAUST REACHES 37
11 INMATES STILL MISSING; 14 BODIES UNIDENTIFIED.
DOCTORS FIGHTING TO PREVENT PNEUMONIA FROM CLAIMING VICTIMS AMONG SURVIVORS.
CAUSE STILL UNKNOWN.
Pittsburgh, July 26 -- (AP) -- A stern fight began today to prevent pneumonia from taking toll of the lives of many of those rescued from fire that destroyed the home for the aged of the Little Sisters of the Poor, here Friday night and early Saturday.
The number of lives lost in the blaze, meanwhile, mounted to 39 over the weekend with the deaths in hospitals of MRS. MARY FILEY, 76; MRS. THERESA RISINGER, 81; and BRIDGET SHEA, 72.
Fear that shock and exposure would exact their price was expressed even as the more than 200 victims were being borne into four hospitals in the neighborhood of the home as the fire still raged. Today, that toll believed taken, doctors and nurses of the hour hospitals toiled over more than 150 old and infirm men and women to help them rebuild their waning strength to offset the ravages of disease.
Police too were busy. No trace has been found of 11 persons listed in salvaged records of the home as having been in the institution at the time of the fire. No bodies were found in the ruins and the only supposition was that the 11 were being cared for in private homes somewhere in the city but where and what care was being given was unknown.
The number of unidentified dead dropped to 14 meanwhile, with the identification of MRS. MARY E. HITE, 67, bay a nephew NICHOLAS E. LYNAN, Altoona, Pa.