Montreal, QB Nightclub Fire, Sept 1972



Montreal -- Police say that three young men who were angry after being turned away from a crowded downtown nightclub Friday night may have started a fire which killed 42 people in the bar.
Flames engulfed the Blue Bird Cafe, crowded with more than 200 patrons listening to live country and western music shortly after a "ball of fire" exploded in the main entrance of the second storey club.
"It was either a Molotov cocktail or gasoline spread on the stairs and then ignited," Montreal Police Inspector Armand Chaille told the Free Press early today.
Four young men are being held at police headquarters following the fire disaster, the worst in Montreal since 1927, when 77 people perished in a theatre blaze.
"We've got witnesses who saw the way the fire started, and I expect, right now, that we will be able to tell the newspapers within 48 hours exactly how the tragedy occurred," said Insp. Chaille.
He said four men were turned away from the club shortly before the fire started about 10 p.m. EDT.
Most of the victims who died in the smoke and panic were huddled and crushed in corners of the second-storey bar. "There was lots of pitch black smoke and then a lot of heat and a lot of yellow light ... We knew it was a fire. Everyone began to panic," said George Lancia, a survivor.
When the main staircase was englufed in flames, patrons rushed to an emergency exit. "There were so many people on the fire escape that the railing broke," said Mr. Lancia.
Many survivors escaped the disaster scene by jumping from windows to the street below. One police officer said the whole place was in flames in about two or three minutes.
Mr. and Mrs. James Robson said they were waiting to get into the upper bar, located over a ground floor cocktail lounge, when they spotted a ball of fire behind them and a man running down the stairs.
"We tried to run after the man, but there was a wall of fire that kept us from following," Mrs. Robson said. She said they scrambled down the fire escape and "when we got outside the flames had spread so fast they had trapped I don't know how many girls in the women's washroom."
Three bodies were found in one of the washrooms and another 15 of the dead were found huddled in a corner that had no exit according to police. Another 24 were jammed in a rear section of the club near the bar and close to a back entrance.
Sam Dugay, 23, said he was standing talking to the Blue Bird dorman when "a big column of black smoke and flames shot up the stairway."
George Lancia, who was in the club, said "everyone began to panic."
"There was lots of pitch black smoke, then a lot of heat and then a lot of yellow light ... We knew it was a fire and everyone began to panic."
"There were so many people on the fire escape that the railing broke. People were falling from the sky almost."
"I tried to help people come out of the front windows, but they just panicked and were falling out."
One 20-year-old woman said the fire went through the whole building in no time at all.
"People were screaming, falling, being stepped on. By the time I got out the whole building was burning and there were still people inside."
One witness said three men apparently had been thrown out of the club shortly before the explosion.
Police said the fire bombs were thrown into a stairwell at the front of the building which links the two club levels.

Continued on Page 2.


Bonnie Hill

Hi Jim,
I just wanted to let you know after so many years, that I worked with Bonnie at CP Rail for a few years prior to the Blue Bird Cafe fire, and have thought about her often over the years. I was devastated at her death and that of her friend Kathy Wirtnan (who I did not know). Bonnie was a bubbly, fun loving girl who had such a lively spirit. I was also sorry to read that you were asked to identify her at the time, which must have been such an incredible shock. I remember meeting your mother at the CP Rail Purchasing Dept. office when she came to collect Bonnie's effects. I hope you have found some peace and closure.

Bluebird fire

The address was 1172 union and phone was514-866-0938

Bluebird fire

The address was 1172 union and phone was514-866-0938

Wagon Wheel

I would like to talk to someone who used to go to the Wagon Wheel.
I used to go there myself and Don from the band would always come
and sit with us.
My email is
Thank you,

please check for the name

please check for the name BRADLEY address 5400 walkey N.D.G..

Blue Bird

Irene Sharpajew died in the Bluebird fire, on the eve of her wedding, at the age of 19. She was the love of my life though it was not me she was marrying. She was kind, exquisitely beautiful and a caring human being who did not deserve to lose her life in such a manner. She was my best friend ever and forty years later I miss her still. I knew her for eight years, meeting her when I was 12 and she 11, on the mean streets of Pointe St. Charles. She moved to NDG and I to LaSalle but we were always friends.

Each September 1, I visit her grave at Cote des Neiges cemetery where she has now been joined by her mother and father. She lies close to her friends Patricia and Sandra who also died with her that night.

I missed seeing her one last time that night because I was late bringing her the wedding gift I had lovingly and painstakingly made for her. She had left by the time I reached her home to give it to her.

I remember the confusion that Saturday morning when my own mother woke me early to tell me that the wedding was off....something about a fire (Irene's mother had called). I went downstairs, picked up the Gazette and read the headline : 37 dead in Downtown Blaze. I knew she was gone and that my life would never be the same. A big part of me died that day.

So many lives lost for nothing! How different would the world have been had the victims been allowed to live out their lives - had they been allowed to grow up? to marry? to have children? To contribute to making the world a better place?

Irene's mother, Anne Marie, forgave her daughter's killers. She was, in the best sense of the word, a Christian who believed in the power of forgiveness as a redemptive force. I admired her for that but I cannot say I share her generosity of spirit. The three killers must bear the burden of their horrific deeds till the day they die. Could anything they ever did in the past forty years begin to compensate for the destruction that they wrought that night?

Now, this year, there will be a belated remembrance.... and all those of us who lost loved ones can do do is to be there.... to bear silent witness to the holes in our hearts and reflect on what might have been if that terrible night had never happened.



name and pic of young lady who perished in the fire


I worked with a young lady in 1972 that perished in the Blue Bird Cafe fire. I can not recall her name at all. She worked for a Mr Arron Fish who was the president of Illco Lock Company. She was his secretary.

I recall that she was beautiful, intelligent, loyal and won the respect of the whole enterprise.

I would appreciate whatever help that you can give me.


Raymond Modric
La Salle, Qc.

The Blue Bird Cafe Fire

Sharon, I knew your dad from the Blue Bire Cafe. He will be remembered and missed always.


Hi sir, I was surfing wikipedia on info for the Beverly Hills supperclub and I clicked on a link for the fire at the Bluebird. I actually know of this fire due to the fact that my dad married Val's sister Edith. She still lives in the Gaspe region. She also had a son named Valpy who unfortunately died in a tragic drowning. I remember often, of her speaking about how much she loved her brother Val. I can't imagine the panic of everyone that night but I guess fortune favored a few.

best regards