Friday, December 20, 2013

St.Anthony's hospital disaster

as if the last post wasn't enough to badly influence a boy of five...("wreck on the highway...blood on the ground"...Roy Acuff song)
here's a RE-POST of the Effingham, Illinois St Anthony hospital fire and the smell of burning flesh to an 7th or 8th

     Late one night in 1949...another event would happen...putting my hometown of Effingham on the world map.
    My dad woke me up and said there was something going on north of the city.
We got dressed and went outside and heard a bunch of sirens and smelled fire.
    Dad and I got into the car and we drove north thru Effingham and followed the rest of the traffic.  
    The main hospital was burning to the ground and the smell of burning flesh is something that stays with one forever.
    74 persons died that night as St. Anthony's Hospital was totally destroyed.
Investigators would later determine that there was very little chance of survival...hardly any plan for this kind of fast moving blaze and two things I recall...cement statues in front of the windows preventing escape...and a report that the only priest on the scene was so shaken (or drunk) that he couldn't administer last rites to the dead. 
    "It's an ill wind that blows no good" they say and this caused a massive change in most hospitals in this country with conditions improving for safety of patients and staff alike. Others would now have a better chance.
and I just found in my notes...these additional facts about the tragic hospital fire:
     St. Anthony Hospital fire 1949...Effingham, Illinois.
      74 people were killed, including patients, nurses, nuns, a priest, 
and a hospital superintendent who ran into the flames to try to rescue his wife. 
      Dad and I drove out to the north side to see it burn.
we smelled the stench from burnt bodies all over town for days. 
     I was in 8th grade


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