How the 1977 Providence College dorm fire led to fire safety changes nationwide

  • Source: WPRI-TV Providence 12
  • Published: 11/13/2017 03:20 PM

Providence College will mark a somber anniversary next month: 40 years since one of the deadliest dorm fires in U.S. history broke out at Aquinas Hall. The fire started in the early morning hours of Dec. 13, 1977. Investigators believe students drying wet mittens with a hairdryer in a closet ignited the flames, which fueled paper Christmas decorations that covered the walls of their room and the fourth floor hallway. Ten women were killed, two of whom jumped to their deaths. “One of the firefighters was going up on the aerial ladder saying ‘stay there, stay there’ and they jumped,” said Retired Assistant Chief of Operations Michael Dillon. Dillon was 24 years old when he was called to the scene to assist with search and rescue.


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