7th December sees the 60th anniversary of the fire at the Winecoff Hotel in Atlanta, which killed 120 people.
Rick Roberts was a firefighter at the scene, and Connie Foster was one of the people he saved from the hotel fire.
The Winecoff Hotel sits, an empty shell, across the street from the Ritz-Carlton. Today an infamous name in the history of Atlanta, before 1946 this building was considered to be one of the finest hotels in Atlanta and the entire Southeast. Completed in 1913, the Winecoff was named for builder William Fleming Winecoff, who owned the hotel. It stood 15 stories tall, dwarfing the other buildings around it.
The building represented the "northern" movement of Atlanta to what today is called "mid-town." Very little of mid-town existed prior to 1890, when Piedmont Park was built. With the 1895 Cotton Exposition, mid-town seemed to come to life and by the time Winecoff built the structure the growing section was in need of a hotel.
Winecoff, who lived and died in the hotel, was comfortable with the fact that the hotel was "fireproof." Built of brick and stone, it did not have fire escapes or a sprinkler system. Sometime after 3am an employee smelled smoke on the third floor of the structure. More than 275 guest were in the hotel, preparing for the Saturday festivities marking the 5th anniversary of Pearl Harbor. When fire trucks began to roll to the scene at 3:45, the fire had made significant progress, and many had already died. Guests trapped on the upper floors tried to climb down bed sheets or rope, only to lose their grip and fall to their death.