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10 Tragic Prison and Asylum Fires

I have written several other fire-related lists for Listverse but never one on this topic. Prisons, and insane asylums are not the kind of buildings people typically think about when they consider fire safety for the occupants. But humans can die just as easily and quickly in a burning building that is a prison as they can in a factory or a school. In fact, they can die far more easily as they are, in most cases, locked inside the building and can only escape the fire if someone unlocks the doors holding them in. In addition, many older prisons and asylums had little to no fire safety warning or suppression systems and were constructed of wood and other combustible materials. Finally, prisons and asylums were (are) usually overcrowded and those that are in charge of their operation are far more inclined to worry about intentional or accidental escapes of the prisoners/occupants than putting out the fire. All of these factors make fires in these types of building especially deadly for those trapped inside.

There have been many examples of tragic loss of life fires at prisons and what were then called “lunatic asylums.” I included both prisons and asylums in this list because they share so many common fire safety hazards – overcrowding, locked doors/cells, etc. There are scores if not hundreds of possible prison and asylum fires to include in any such list. For this list I chose a few notable, and few lesser known (in some cases, almost completely forgotten) tragic fires.

One thing that seems to never change when it comes to these fires is that reforms are talked about, questions asked, and concerns raised but the underlying causes of these fires such as overcrowding, are seldom addressed. I anticipate the most recent tragic prison fire of just two days ago, the tragic fire in Comayaga, Honduras, which so far has killed at least 355 people, will once again force us to evaluate fire safety in prisons and mental health facilities. And once again, probably nothing will change as a result. Here are ten tragic and horrible prison and asylum fires.

10

Higuey Prison
Higuey, Dominican Republic

Dominican Prison

On March 7, 2005 the Higuey prison, made to hold 180 prisoners but used to house over 400, was the site of one of the worst prison fires in history up to the Comayaga Honduras prison fire. On that morning there was a riot of the prisoners at the prison. Supposedly the fight started in one wing of the prison between two sets of prison gangs and the guards were unable to control the riot. The prisoners then set fire to mattresses using weed killer to try to keep the guards away. The resulting fire and smoke killed at least 134 people and 26 more were injured. Only about 20 prisoners in the cellblock survived.

9

Colney Hatch Lunatic Asylum
London England

Colney Hatch Lunatic Asylum

The Colney Hatch asylum was one of the earliest psychiatric prisons and was in operation from 1851-1993. Among its famous guests was John Duffy the serial killer, a possible Jack the Ripper suspect, and a woman who dressed as a man to fight on the front lines of World War I. It was a huge, sprawling complex (it was said that to walk the entire asylum took one over five hours) and housed up to 3,500 “patients.”

At around 5:30 PM on January 27, 1903, a steam whistle sounded a fire alarm at the asylum. City residents heard the siren and streamed into the London streets to see the growing blaze take hold of the building. The fire had started in one of the bottom block of wards. Soon the entire southern block, known as X Ward 5 was ablaze. The building was made of wood and the breeze fanned the flames. There were less than a dozen staff trained to fight fires in the prison fire brigade and they were quickly over matched by thee size of the blaze. The flames and smoke spread to X Ward 4 through the long corridor (said to be the longest continuous corridor in London). By the time London city firefighters arrived and were able to get water pressure, it was nearly an hour after the fire started and the entire temporary ward on the south side of the building was destroyed. The corrugated iron roof melted and collapsed. In all, five wards were destroyed. Apparently there were over 600 Jewish women (this was the Jewish ward of the building) in the five wards, but many managed to escape. The death toll was at least 52 people. Londoners were frightened that lunatics had literally escaped the asylum and were roaming the streets.


8

Oakley Training School
Raymond, Mississippi USA

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The Oakley Training School is a juvenile correctional facility located near Raymond, Mississippi and it is Mississippi’s sole juvenile correctional facility for children. Today it has a capacity of 150 students. However, it was originally called Oakley Farm and it was a State prison. Built in 1894, it failed due to poor soil in the area the women prisoners were moved to another State prison. But in 1913 it was still the Oakley Prison Farm and also the Mississippi state prison hospital and this is when the fire happened.

It is unclear how the fire started but like all buildings of the time it as constructed of wood and burned quickly. After spending the day working the cotton fields, the prisoners were locked up for the night on the second floor of the two-story prison building. When the fire started, it quickly burned the single stairs leading to the second floor. The prison had no fire apparatus to fight the fire. Local farmers ran to the prison to try to help the guards but nothing could be done. The prisoners screamed and tore at the cell bars, but no one escaped. When the fire ended, 35 prisoners, all of them African American, were dead.

7

Maury County Jail
Columbia, Tennessee USA

Prison-Art

The Maury County jail was located in the center of the city of Columbia Tennessee when it caught fire on Sunday June 26, 1977 during visitor’s hour. Before the fire was over, 33 inmates and 9 visitors were dead.

Unlike the older prisons that caught fire, Maury County jail was made of modern, fire-resistant construction – concrete and cinder block with few combustible building materials. However there was no fire alarm system, or sprinkler system, only fire extinguishers to fight a fire if one started. At the time of the fire there were 63 inmates, approximately 20 visitors, and 5 guards in the building. It was visiting hour and the visitors, as was the normal practice, were locked inside the jail with the prisoners.
Though the building was made of fire-resistant materials, the padding in the padded “drunk tank” was flammable – made mostly of PVC and other combustible materials, secured to plywood on the walls. Early that afternoon, a 16 year-old prisoner was moved to the drunk tank. He asked a visitor for a cigarette and the visitor gave him one, as well as his own lit cigarette to light it. At about 1:30 PM, the prisoner started yelling that his cell (the drunk tank) was on fire.

The guards opened the door to the drunk tank to rescue the prisoner (he would live as they dragged him outside) and a wall of flame and dense smoke blasted into their faces and the hallway. Visitors who were not locked in with prisoners quickly escaped but in the confusion, the guard with the keys lost them and they could not be located as the prison filled with black smoke.

Firefighters arrived quickly from the local fire department located one block from the prison, but already the building was filled with black smoke and they could not reach the prisoners trapped in their cells. They did, eventually get inside and put out the fire in the padded walls of the drunk tank. Meanwhile, firefighters using sledge hammers, cutting tools, and trucks and chains, pulled out some of the exterior walls to the prison cells and the few prisoners who escaped death managed to get out through these holes. But before it was over, 42 people were dead, most killed by carbon monoxide and cyanide gas from the burning plastic padding.

6

Saint John City Prison
Saint John, New Brunswick Canada

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An almost identical fire to the Maury County jail fire occurred on June 21, 1977 at the Saint John city prison/holding center located inside the Saint John city hall, a 16-story high rise building in the center of the city. The building housed the city and municipal offices as well as the police and a small prison/holding area for prisoners awaiting trial. Again, the building was of modern, non-combustible construction, but contained a padded “drunk tank” holding cell. And again, this is where the fire started.

A prisoner was placed into the “drunk tank” padded cell, and a short time later other prisoners began to yell that there was fire. No one knows how he started the fire but again, as the guards arrived and opened the cell door, they were hit with a flash over of heat, smoke, and flames as the combustible and deadly gases from the burning plastic ignited. This quickly spread smoke through out the prison. Again, the guards managed to drag the prisoner out of the building and he lived, and in the confusion, again, the cell keys were lost, but quickly found. However, as guards attempted to open the metal cell doors to free the prisoners, they found the doors would not open. At first they thought the heat had melted and warped the locks but it was later determined the heat of the fire had slightly warped the metal cell doors in their sliding tracks so the doors would not slide. Firefighters had to use an acetylene torch to get into the cell block to remove the bodies.

Again, the fire itself was small and quickly extinguished, but the smoke contained deadly carbon monoxide and cyanide gas. When it was over, 21 inmates were dead.

5

Seacliff Lunatic Asylum
Seacliff, New Zealand

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When constructed in the late 1800s, the Seacliff Lunatic Asylum was the largest building ever built in New Zealand at that time. The asylum was built in an isolated coastal spot and forested area. It could handle 500 patients with 50 staff. Created by one of New Zealand’s legendary 19th century architects, the prison was grand in scale and design. One commentator, describing the location and scale/grandiosity of the prison remarked: “The Victorians might not have wanted their lunatics living with them, but they liked to house them grandly.”

On December 8, 1942 at around 9:45 pm a fire broke out in Ward 5 of the hospital, which was a two-story, wooden “out building” added onto the original construction of the prison. It held between 39-41 female patients, all of whom were locked inside their cells or a common dormitory. Male prison workers noticed a fire in the building and quickly tried to get the fire under control using a fire hose system. But the fire spread too quickly through the wood structure and though two women were saved, the rest perished as the flames consumed the building and it collapsed. All that could be done was to prevent the fire spreading to the remainder of the building. Either 39 or 41 people, all women, died.


4

San Pedro Sula Prison Fire
San Pedra Sula, Honduras

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The true extent of the horror at the Comayaga Honduras prison fire of February 15, 2012 is still not known. The latest reports have more than 350 prisoners killed in the fire. Sadly, this fire was only of several recent deadly prison fires in the country of Honduras. On May 17, 2004 the San Pedro Sula prison fire killed 103 prison inmates and followed another deadly prison fire in Honduras only a year earlier. (the April 2003 prison fire at the El Porvenir Prison farm killed 86 prisoners).

San Pedro Sula is the second largest city in Honduras and it is an economic center for the small country. But it is also a center for gang violence and leads the country in the number of murders. Many of the gang members were housed in the San Pedro Sula prison. The fire allegedly started with an electrical short in a refrigerator kept by gang members in one of the cellblocks but it is also thought that one of the prison gangs intentionally set the fire. All of the victims were gang members. The prison was built to hold 800 but was holding almost 2,000 when the fire occurred.

3

Longue Pointe Asylum
Montreal, Quebec Canada

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Even by the horrible standards of care received by those who were sent to 19th century insane asylums, the Longue Pointe asylum seemed to be something right out of a nightmare. The prisoners were chained, handcuffed and generally treated like animals, which was something all too common for such institutions.

Established in 1873 the Loungue Pointe asylum was one of Canada’s largest at the time and was completely operated by Catholic nuns. It held 1500 inmates. The fire originated around 11:30 AM on May 6, 1873 in the third ward in the women’s wing of the asylum. The asylum was divided into flats – the fire hit the fourth and fifth flats which each housed about 50-60 people. It was thought that one of the female inmates set fire to the building as she had previously tried to set fire to herself. Though there were fire hoses, it appears they were not connected to the pipes supplying the water. The women were of course kept locked away in the wards and it appears every one of them in the fourth and fifth flats died. When the fire was over, 94 of the women were dead as well as four Sister of Providence nuns.

An editorial in a Montreal newspaper the next day said that given the size of Lounge Pointe and the overcrowding it was only a matter of time until such a tragedy occurred. The paper blasted the lack of fire fighting apparatus and know how which could have saved many of the people and called for an investigation and reforms to be made to the asylum system in Canada as a result of the fire. The editorial asked if there were not in fact many large and similar public buildings which could also catch fire leading to huge loss of life, and wasn’t it just pure chance that fires did or did not kill? Also, they asked, “does not such an event (the fire) indicate that the whole system of Government inspection of asylums is for all practical purposes worthless?” The paper correctly pointed out that the chances of escaping a burning building are poor enough for the sane, but even less for the insane. It then went on to say, “the chances of a fire being started in such a place are greatly increased if over a thousand people living in it are lunatics.”


2

Ohio State Penitentiary
Columbus, Ohio USA

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The worst prison fire in US history occurred on April 21, 1930 at the Ohio State penitentiary in which 322 people were killed. Built in 1890 and only designed to hold 1,500 prisoners, by the 1930s the Ohio State penitentiary was housing 4,300. It was undergoing renovations to add more space at the time of the fire and in fact, construction activities may have caused the fire (the cause of the fire was listed as ‘incendiary”).

What is known for certain is the fire started at around 5:00 PM just after prisoners had knocked off construction for the day. Did a prisoner set the fire as a diversionary tactic for a prison break? That was one possibility, though never proven. The fire began at the northwest corner of the prison roof. The fire quickly spread through the wood roof and frame of the six story tall prison. The guards became aware of the fire at about 5:20 PM but at first did not believe it. The guards quickly realized the fire was real and told Warden Preston Thomas. Thomas was convinced it was a prison break and delayed calling the local fire department, instead calling the local National Guard to come help keep order. By the time the Columbus Fire Department was notified 20 minutes later, they arrived to a scene of complete chaos and death as the fire raged through the wood structure with prisoners on the top two floors already being burned alive in their cells. Still, there may have bee n time to save at least the prisoners in the cells of the lower part of the prison, but guards later testified they were ordered not to unlock the cells and let the prisoners escape.

Finally, as the National Guard had arrived with the fire department, guards and the few prisoners who were not in cells desperately and heroically tried to get to the inmates still trapped inside. One man later said he had tried to reach a prisoner who was screaming from his cell “for God’s sake let me out, I’m burning!” but could not. He ran away as he could no longer stand the screams of the men dying inside.

As some of the prisoners were finally released from their cells, they attacked the firefighters for the fire hoses to try to save their fellow inmates. The National Guard had to put down a near riot. One guard reported: “we could not reach them for the bars, the convicts dropped to the floor, they were literally burned alive before our eyes.”

1

Comayagua Prison
Comayagua, Honduras

Honduras Prison Fire 00Fd4

The full details of the February 15, 2012 fire at the prison in Comayaga Honduras are now becoming clear, and it is a horror story right out of the mind of Stephen King.

Honduras has the highest murder rate (80 per 100,000 people) in the world and has been described as a “failing state.” Gangs essentially rule the country. The country is a central area for drug and weapon trafficking between South and North America. All of the jails in the country can hold 6,000 inmates, but have over 12,000 crammed in.

At 11:00 PM on February 15, a prison inmate called the state governor Paola Castro and screamed that he was going to burn the place down. The man then set his own bed on fire. The governor dispatched fire officials to the prison who arrived but were not allowed in by the prison guards who thought the screaming they heard was part of a riot or prison break. After a delay of 30 minutes the fire fighters were allowed entrance but could find no keys to open the six barracks which each contained about 100 prisoners. All of these barracks were on fire.

It is thought that 358 died and perhaps 100 prisoners escaped but the final death toll is still unknown. Workers dragged out the charred bodies from the prison. Some inmates thought they could survive the fire by standing in the showers with the water running on them. They too died. Others were found pressing their arms against the corrugated metal roof trying to break out, piled one on top of each other.

Family members felt the fire was set by the government and was no accident. The angry crowd of relatives threatened the guards and police, who hit the crowd with tear gas and fired bullets into the ground. It is reported that half of the prisoners were not even charged with a crime and that for a prison built to hold 500, only 12 guards at night guarded the 800 inmates. One human rights documentarian stated: “When fires break out, they will not open gates to release prisoners and they die inside. It’s happened before … They haven’t learned because this is a collapsing country, they’re not interested in making change.”



  • TheCapitalLettter

    Prison ghosts! This is where nightmares come from.

  • Missy

    The Honduras prison system is hopelessly overcrowded. It was a disaster just waiting to happen. The asylum fires are particularly distressing as some poor inmates with their conditions and poor value of care may become more confused with total chaos of a fire.

    • GrammerNazi

      In the camps, Mein Führer welcomed a good fire. I don’t know why it’s such a big deal now days.

      • Maggot

        And you have the audacity to ride someone else about their use of some simple swear words?

        • Flippant

          I think, think, he was trying to be funny, Maggy.. but failed somewhat miserably.

        • GrammerNazi

          “If you do not turn the holocaust into a comedy, you are bound to repeat it. That’s why I made schindlers list” -Steven Spielburg

          • @renov

            THAT made me laugh. :)

  • trollito

    Poor visitors..

  • segues

    Patrick Weidinger has once again given us a fantastic list!

    I have to admit that being trapped in a fire is what I fear most. When I read, just days ago, about the San Pedro Sula prison fire I was not just horrified, I felt physically sick. It was all too easy to imagine the terrible death those prisoners faced.

    This list includes some terrifying fire events, a few I remembered reading about, but most were new to me. I can anticipate some pretty nasty nightmares as a result of this list.

    Thanks Patrick

    • segues

      Of course, I meant the Comayaga Prison fire in Honduras. Still, all the fires are, indeed, the stuff of nightmares.

    • Nocturnesthesia

      I’d still rather die by smoke inhalation than drowning.

      Great list, it’s really unbelievable to think people are so concerned about petty criminals (maybe) escaping early that they’re willing to essentially condemn them to a horrible death in case of an emergency.

      • Callum

        You’re not always lucky enough to die of smoke inhilation, it’s very easy to die from being cooked alive (much more horrible…..I’m guessing)

        • segues

          Dying from being burned alive has been one of my biggest fears since I was 14. A friend’s brother, a boy I knew quite well, died ïn a car fire. He and 2 friends, a brother and sister, were in an accident in a VW bug. The car was so badly damaged that the doors would not open and the car burst into flames. They could not escape and all 3 died most horribly. I also knew a woman, a television reporter, who was burned in an incident with a high voltage electrical tower.
          Awful. Awful.

  • dizit

    What is more terrifying that being trapped in a fire?

    For me, nothing.

    Imagine the horror those poor people endured! Seeing the fire approaching, knowing there was no escape, waiting, in pure terror, for the fire to reach them and then catching on fire. The lucky ones died of asphyxiation before the flames arrived.

    These fires were tragic not just because of the loss of life but because most of those deaths could have been avoided if the proper action had been taken in a timely fashion. Will this latest fire cause changes to be made which will prevent further horrific loss of life in such places?

    Doubtful.

    • LB

      A sure death, that’s how I want to go. Imagine falling from the sky, or watching a fire slowly approach. Once you know there is now way to escape death the deepest calm would come over you. Most people live life fearing death, so once you know death is inavitable, maybe people would finally learn what life is really about. Even if it’s for a few minutes, you will see more beauty than you ever will in an entire life time. Having a fire slowly creep towards me would be the most beautiful experiance. Flames are very beautiful, the sad thing is no one ever notices the true beauty in them or what a miracle they are. The earth is not here for us, we are here for the earth. We are the must worthless organism for this planet. Beauty surrounds us, but we ignore it.

      Here are some quotes: “There is as much beauty in a single cell in your body as there is in the Grand Canyon”-Me
      “Every life is a miracle and every breath is a gift”-Me

      • Flippant

        Even if it’s for a few minutes, you will see more beauty than you ever will in an entire life time. Having a fire slowly creep towards me would be the most beautiful experiance.

        I wonder if you would romanticize it so much if you actually were caught in a fire. Methinks not.

        I’m inclined to believe that, rather than the flames creeping towards you being “the most beautiful experience”, you would find the pain of heat too much to bear and it would turn into a terrifying ordeal for you.. survival instincts would kick in and it would be a traumatic experience. Well, unless you’re a monk, that is. :)

  • Mikerodz

    Looking at the present condition in penitentiaries like in Philippines, It wo’t be a surprise these things will happen here also.

  • The Colney Hatch Lunatic Asylum fire – among the inmates were a serial killer and a “woman who dressed as a man to fight on the front lines of WWI”. Segues – I was certain you would have picked up on that! Not mad, just patriotic!! :)

    • segues

      I’m glad you brought that up cq!

      That’s confusing. WWI, the war in which she supposedly fought, began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918. If the fire occurred in 1903, she couldn’t possibly have fought in WWI.
      What I did find on a woman who fought (for 10 days) for the British during that war:

      The only woman soldier enlisted in the British Army managed the feat by passing herself off as a man. Dorothy Lawrence, a 20-year-old ambitious journalist, joined in 1915 the B.E.F. Tunnelling Company using the alias Denis Smith, aided by some sympathetic men. She gave herself in after only 10 days worried about the safety of these men and had to endure an absurd interrogatory, as the authorities assumed she was a ‘camp follower’, that is to say, a prostitute, a term she misunderstood.
      and
      Dorothy Lawrence:
      This dynamic lady was born in Polesworth, Warwickshire (4 October 1896-1964). From the very beginning Dorothy Lawrence had a strong desire to be a war reporter. In the year 1914, with the commencement of World War 1, she strongly tried to get employed as a war reporter but it seemed improbable since, men also had a reportedly tough time to procure the same job. She finally managed to secretly pose as a man and thus became a soldier in World War 1. She was assisted by two English soldiers who helped her cut her hair in the typical military style. She underwent a lot of hardships and even managed to use a forged identity later on. Due to ill health, she finally presented herself to the commanding sergeant. After this incident, she was declared as a spy. Her tale of disguising herself as woman was kept under wraps for fear many women would follow suit. She was not even permitted to write or publish any articles regarding the same. It was only after the end of World War One, Dorothy Lawrence wrote about all her experiences, which was finally discovered by a historian.

      In neither case is there mention of her being confined to a mental institution.

      • That’s why I threw it to you. I knew you’d come up trumps! Thanks for not disappointing.

        • segues

          It’s nice to know you’re looking out for ways I can have fun! Thanks cq, I really do appreciate it! :)

      • Tim

        Segues – nice digging to unearth Dorothy Lawrence.

        That is indeed the lady you were looking for. She died as a patient of Friern Barnet Hospital in 1964, having been certified insane in 1925.

        Friern Barnet Hospital is another name for *drumroll* Colney Hatch Lunatic Asylum.

        I’m new to the comments section, so I don’t know if I’m allowed to post links, but you can search for any of those terms and find a piece about her in the Watford Observer.

        • segues

          Thanks Tim. And thank you for the clue to the Watford Observer! I finally found a mention of her being institutionalized in that article.

      • Akiraronin

        Echoing the rest, great job on researching this! But I think the lister meant that she was a notable guest of the asylum , not actually there during the actual fire. This would explain the time discrepancy.
        :-)

        • segues

          Thanks Akiraronin. You may be right about Patrick’s intention. I hadn’t thought of that. It does explain the discrepancy. :)

          • Flippant

            Lol @ “might be right”
            I’d go so far to say Akira is absolutely right. I’m not even sure where your confusion lies in reading Pat’s words there.

            Among its famous guests was John Duffy the serial killer, a possible Jack the Ripper suspect, and a woman who dressed as a man to fight on the front lines of World War I.

            Really? You hadn’t thought of that? You misunderstood them both to be there during the fire? C’mon now, Segues.

            But, well, as you didn’t find her even as a patient, whether she “was or wasn’t” there during the fire is knda irrelevant anyways.

            Not trying to cause trouble.. I’m just sayin’. :)

        • vanowensbody

          Yes, the lady was Dorothy Lawrence and yes I did not mean to imply that she was in the asylum when it caught fire. I should have been more clear on that I guess? Thanks to CQSteve, Segues and Tim for picking up on it and posting the interesting info. about Dorothy. – Pat

          • segues

            You were clear enough. I guess I wasn’t paying sufficient attention, per Flip’s reply.
            I have to say, however, that I’m happy I did misunderstand the item because I had fun looking up the information :)

          • Flippant

            Rank.

          • Flippant

            Thank you, Segues. ;)

            I only commented the seconed time was because you snubbed me amongst two you replied.

            You found a way to acknowledge me and we’re cool. *hugs* ;)

      • Flippant

        Ahhh, Segues.. lol I’m gonna have to be the odd one out here.

        I’m gonna have to say “ordinary” researching, at best. The one thing you were looking for, you couldn’t find.

        As indicated in your final sentence…

        In neither case is there mention of her being confined to a mental institution.

        :P

      • Squid

        Bla-Bla-Bla

    • SiYing

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    • Phillistus

      It\’s a real pleasure to find smooene who can think like that

  • Wes

    Small point, but in number 6 you are describing a backdraught. I presume the drunk tank described is generally sealed with not much more oxygen supply than a closed compartment and there wouldn’t be enough fuel to cause a flashover which is generally caused when items such as household furniture reach their auto ignition temperature. There was probably a once fully established fire which had reduced to a smoulder due to lack of oxygen which then became a fully established fire once oxygen was re-introduced.

    • vanowensbody

      Yes, I am sure the drunk tanks in question were just that – smoldering fires just waiting for the door to be opened and fresh oxygen to flare up into a flashover. It is amazing the prisoners in the drunk tank in both cases were rescued and lived.

  • nzkristy

    my great aunty perished in #5. She was an incredibly talented violinist who had (what in this day in age we would call) Bipolar disorder.

  • Anony

    Mediocre list at best.

  • mom424

    Nice job Patrick; timely.

    Unfortunately conditions in Central and South American institutions pretty much guarantee there will be plenty of further entries for a follow-up list. Wonder how big the list would be if we included places like North Korea and China; places where this sort of tragedy is swept under the rug.

    btw, just as an aside – When are North Americans going to realize that our ill-advised, near criminal war on drugs is responsible for the violence in Mexico, Honduras, and all points south? Where there is money to be made……

  • Sbtier

    Good list. I was in a hospital a few years ago, and it kept having the fire alarms go off by mistake. It got me thinking how difficult it would be to evacuate a hospital. I was mobile so I went out in the hall to check out my escape routes.

  • oouchan

    Horrible situations. To be locked in with no way out and a fire coming…tragic and scary…and sad.

    Good list, morbid topic.

  • Lifeschool

    Back to writing about fires Pat? I guess you really love investigating these incidents for us to read about. I know some find this sort of thing fascinating. Having said that, I couldn’t bring myself to read much of the list due to the content. That’s not to say the list is bad, but I gave up after #7 as I was getting rather depressed directly before my Saturday night!

    • vanowensbody

      Having survived three building fires myself (two of which I was inside the building when it caught fire) I know a bit about this topic. Not that I am proud of that fact. I am just happy to be alive and telling the story.

  • ~*Jany*~

    It just breaks my heart to think of the mothers who cant even say their final goodbyes to their sons. I saw videos of how they threw the bodies inside trucks like if they were animals. What has this world come to? Crap now im pist off!

    • ARSE

      Really your pissed of that murderers and rapist could say goodbye to their mothers? Their is a reason why these men were in prison. They didn’t even deserve prison. They deserved a bullet through their heads the second they commited the crime. There is no reason to commit a crime. I would have loved to have been there to watch these pigs burn. See the look in their eyes when they realize whats about to happen.When thousands of criminals burn in one fire, you know there is still hope in this world.

      • rose

        Wow. Ignorant douchebag much?!

      • Chicanochars

        they may have committed the worst crime but nobody deserves to die burning alive not even Stalin

        • Anony

          lol Stalin deserved to be boiled to death.

  • Jillian

    Perfect place to find ghosts, perhaps the next list should be about that. Always interested in those types of lists.

  • Flippant

    Another interesting read.. thanks, Patto. I seem to have a morbid fascination for tragedies which, perhaps, I don’t rein in as much as I should. I can often be found trawling through sites, such as Documenting Reality, to seek out graphic pics/vids for a first hand glimpse of what went down and the result. It puts it all into perspective for me.

    Anyways, if I may play the critic for a minute; you need to be mindful, when taking notes from different sources, that the bits of info that make it into your list don’t contradict each other -like as what’s happened in Entry No. 1.

    Second paragraph reads…

    All of the jails in the country can hold 6,000 inmates, but have over 12,000 crammed in.

    But then fifth paragraph says…

    ..and that for a prison built to hold 500, only 12 guards at night guarded the 800 inmates.

    Lol as soon as I read the “All of the jails in the country can hold…” sentence I thought – O_o geez, that’s a pretty broad sweeping statement.. I’ll definitely be checking that fact out. But, then, by the time I finished reading the entry, I already had my answer. ;)

  • myce83

    I must say as a Honduran citizen that the “failing state” comment and the description of the country being run by gangs is unfair. Honduras dos have serious problems with violence created by the USA’s insatiable appetite for illicit drugs but it is no some kind of wasteland. There are millions of honest people trying to work hard. A beautiful country with gorgeous beaches, ancient ruins, tropical rainforests, coral reefs, mountains, and most importantly hard working people.

  • blue jacket

    Here’s an interview with a man who survived the Saint John jail fire and was charged with setting it:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GlY-mScAa48

  • Flippant

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by RogueTrader
    It’s freakin cold down here. So.. I’m baaaaack! ;) *hugs*

    (((((rogue!!!!)))))

    Great to see ya lady….hope you’re good and well :)…..this place has been toned down now, all best behaviour shit :(…I’ve been threatened with bans so many times…the last time 2 weeks ago for provoking creepy! :-D…wankers!!! Anyways stop being a stranger!….people miss you here…your name always comes up in the ‘where is ****’ type threads…its just to tame here now….the WC needs a tigress with sharp claws!!!!…stay in touch <3

    • jacaris

      Who? Nevah heard of her.

  • Flippant

    Lol I’ve lent myself to Listverse. I know I’m stupid.. but go easy if you want to keep my funny. ;)

  • Iain

    Great list!

  • There’s also the North Carolina asylum fire that killed Zelda Fitzgerald. I can’t remember how bad it was, but I know she wasn’t the only one that died in it. It was in Asheville I believe.

    • segues

      That was Highland hospital. Nine women, including Zelda, died. At the time of the fire she was locked in her room, awaiting electroshock therapy.

  • Dumisanismith

    Good and Impressive List for the Tragic Prison.
    http://acaiburnextremefacts.net/?p=12

  • Seanti

    Best list in a while. So sad to see the oppression of prison – where fire survival is so much less probable

    • Dhritiman Sharma

      Really a very good news that for Govt effort, some criminals died. This is a very effective method to reduce crime all over the world. I salute Latin American Govts for the planned prison fire & prison riots. When criminals die, it’s time to cheers. Cheers!

  • Eva

    I live down the road from the Seacliff Asylum, I wanted to see if it was on this list. Still a nice place for me to hang out my friends. We sit on the old burnt up walls and chat ;)

  • Tomotaka

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