Mercy Hospital Fire 1950 Kills 41-Davenport, IA

On this day, in the early morning, in 1950 a fire broke out in the Mercy Hospital in Davenport, IA. The fire was noticed by a night nurse making rounds when she noticed smoke in the courtyard and then found the St. Elizabeth mental ward in flames.

All of the victims that were trapped, 65 in all, were mentally ill and most unable to make valid attempts of escape.

The rooms were secured with wire mesh and bars for keeping the patients in their rooms and the ward. The screams of women could be heard as rescue attempts were made, but due to the progression of the fire, most were futile.

One nurse was able to get some of her patients out of the building and re-entered to try to rescue more, but never made it back out.

There were a total of 41 people who died that cold night. The building was not sprinklered and was suggested to be so by the fire chief a year earlier.

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