December 7 - 1946 - The Winecoff Hotel Fire
The Winecoff Hotel in Atlanta, Georgia promoted itself as being "Absolutely Fireproof," so much so that it was put on the hotel stationery. Despite that, a massive fire broke out in the early morning hours of December 7, 1946, when a mattress placed in the one stairway in the hotel caught fire. The smoke and fire shot through the stairwell, spreading to upper floors. Above the fifth floor, every single person was trapped. While a large number of people died from the fire, both because they were burned alive and from smoke inhalation, many others died from jumping out of windows to their deaths. The fire would kill 119 people, including the hotel's owner and his wife as well as a large number of teenagers from around Georgia who were attending a YMCA program. One of the people who jumped was Daisy McCumber, who would be captured by Georgia Tech graduate student Arnold Hardy in a photograph that would win the Pulitzer Prize for Photography that year. In the aftermath of the Winecoff Hotel fire, fire codes throughout the nation were drastically changed to prevent something similar fro ever happening again.