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Dallas Morning News – Dallas, Texas

September 18, 1963

7 Elderly Men Killed In Fire at Rest Home

RIGGINS, Idaho –

Seven elderly men died Tuesday in a fire that raced through a sprawling, wooden rest home in the pine-covered mountains of West Central Idaho.

About 35 others were evacuated safely. Some of the survivors were pushed out of the blazing building in wheel chairs.  Some had to be carried, others led by the hand.

“Some of the patients could walk and some were in wheel chairs,” said Mrs. Anita Miller, an employee.  “Some were bedfast and we carried them out and laid them on the grass, wrapped in blankets.”

There was no chance to rescue the men who perished.  “They couldn’t be saved,” said Robert Salter, operator of the Paradise Pines Rest Home.  “It was such a short period after it started until it was engulfed in flames.”

Sheriff Frank Burholder said the victims, all in their 80’s or 90’s were found in their beds in an annex adjoining the main building.  There was nothing to indicate they tried to get out.

“ I think they all suffocated before the fire got there,” he said.  Mrs. Kate Hall, a nurses aid, said she was awakened about 3:30 a.m. by what she thought was heavy rain on the roof.

“Then it occurred to me that it wouldn’t be raining that hard,” she said, “and I felt the wall and it was almost too hot to touch.”

“I went outside and the ceiling of the patio off the furnace room was on fire.  One of the nurses was coming to check the fire in the furnace and we grabbed fire extinguishers, but the fire was already too far under way.”

Mrs. Hall said a small fire started in the same furnace room about a year ago, but that the furnace and the room had been subsequently repaired.

Coroner Gene LaFay said he would call an inquest.







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