Decades and Deadlines Project

“Tragedy struck Tucson, Arizona, on December 20, 1970 when the legendary Pioneer Hotel caught fire, killing 29 and injuring more than 40. Guests and residents of the 11-story building were celebrating an early Christmas when a fire swept through the lower two floors and spread to the top of the tallest building in the city. The hotel, which was built in 1929, had inadequate fire safety mechanisms, including a lack of fire escapes and sprinkler systems and outdated fire extinguishers and smoke alarms. Firefighters were also unable to reach higher floors because their ladders were too short. As a result, pretty much everyone above the 8th floor was trapped. Many people attempted to escape by tying sheets together and climbing down, while others threw their mattresses out the windows and jumped on them — some successfully, others not. By the end of the night, 28 people had died (the 29th died months later), most from burns or carbon monoxide poisoning, including Harold Steinfeld, one of the builders of the hotel who lived in the penthouse, and a number of Mexican dignitaries, who were visiting Tucson from Sonora, Mexico. More than 40 years later, the Pioneer Hotel fire still ranks as the deadliest land event in Arizona state history.”

To read the full essay, click here. For the powerpoint, click here.

Note: This assignment was completed for my Journalism 587: History of American Journalism class.