Atlanta’s Winecoff: Deadliest hotel fire in U.S. history, 75 years later

  • Source: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution - Metered
  • Published: 12/06/2021 12:00 AM

There’s a reason that the death toll of the Winecoff hotel fire in 1946 has never been surpassed. Immediately after the disaster that killed 119 people, cities across the country began to re-examine their fire codes. In their definitive 1993 book, “The Winecoff Fire,” co-authors Sam Heys and Allen Goodwin point out that the blaze prompted new laws requiring sprinkler systems, fire escapes and fire doors. “Within six months of the fire there was a national convention in Washington, D.C., on fire safety,” said Heys, a former writer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, now retired from the Southern Company. Though advertised as “fireproof,” the Winecoff had neither sprinkler systems, fire escapes nor fire doors. Fire departments had ladders that could only reach to the seventh floor.


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