Friday, September 16, 2016

Winecoff Firefighter Raymond McGill

Retired Chief of Training Raymond McGill in 2011 - photo by Donna Bowman



One of two living Winecoff firefighters is Raymond McGill. He is ninety-nine years old.

On the Winecoff Hotel fire scene, McGill worked ladder rescues on the Ellis St. side of the burning hotel and later went into the building. "People that could come down those stair wells, they would run over you getting down out of there, with fireman trying to get up. That's the biggest thing, turmoil there. People were excited."

Recalling a harsh moment McGill said, "I was on that rescue truck. I stayed there until we hauled people down to the Grady Hospital until the Grady people said, 'don't bring any more down here.' Chief Styron said, 'you tell 'em this is City business and if they have to stack 'em in the hall, they're going to keep on coming.' That's about the instruction I got."

And a lighter moment: "The scene that sticks in my mind, there was some fireman he was crawling around the floor up there. He crawled and he thought he was coming back out into the hallway. There was a closet. He got himself into that closet and didn't know where he was at, it was so close. And when he finally got out on the side he said, this is the statement he made, 'I to myself, I ain't got no business in here!'"

Raymond McGill later became Chief of Training. "Raymond McGill was every Atlanta fireman's mentor. Everyone. He was the go-to person for strategy and tactics for fighting any fire," said former Atlanta firefighter Danny Bowman.

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Broken Hero

A new Winecoff Fire Readers' Mail entry details the lifetime of struggles one Winecoff firefighter suffered after the morning's heroic work. Read Broken Hero here.

Monday, December 07, 2015

Sixty-Ninth Anniversary Article

Writing for the Rome News-Tribune, Blake Doss has written an article remembering the four boys from Rome, Georgia who perished in the 1946 Winecoff Hotel Fire. His article is here.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Winecoff Fire Now A Story of Atlanta

Filmmaker, Lance Russell, has created a series of brief videos called Stories of Atlanta for the SaportaReport, a business news website based in Atlanta. The Winecoff fire is the topic of a recent video. It tells the story of Pulitzer Prize winner, Arnold Hardy, and how good fortune found him despite calamity all around. Click here.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Jane Wallace Photos Acquired

Jane Wallace survived the 1946 Winecoff Hotel fire

Jane Wallace was 24, a nurse, and in Atlanta's Winecoff Hotel to meet her husband, Byron, for a last attempt to save their marriage. It must not have gone well, or at all, because he wasn't there when the fire broke out, though both of their names appeared on the guest list.

She was rescued via ladder across a ten foot alleyway on the hotel's West side - fifteen floors up. She was soon divorced and spoke little of Byron or the fire thereafter. She remarried in 1947 and died in 1984. More photos and full biography are here.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Dorothy Kiker Smith

This newly acquired photo shows Dorothy Smith of Fitzgerald, Georgia who perished along with her three children in the Winecoff Hotel fire. They were traveling in a party of seven of whom only one survived.


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

George Goodwin Dies at 97

Winecoff fire eyewitness, Atlanta Journal reporter George Goodwin, died peacefully at his Atlanta home early this morning. At his side was his beloved grandson, Warren Goodwin. Biography here. George Goodwin remembered here.

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Sunday, December 07, 2014

A Worthy Legacy

The Rome News-Tribune has published an article remembering the four teen-aged boys from Rome, Georgia who perished in the Winecoff fire and traces the fire safety improvements the fire inspired. The article by Doug Walker, Winecoff fire in Atlanta 68 years ago prompted safety changes, is here.

A Gainesville Times article by guest columnist M. Garland Reynolds Jr. remembers four young women from Gainesville, Ga. who also died in the tragic fire. Reynold's article is here.

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Funeral Photo Mystery Solved


This photo appeared in the Salvation Army's regional magazine, The War Cry, December 28, 1946. The name of the Winecoff fire victim being laid to rest was not mentioned in the magazine, only that the service was conducted by Major Frank Longino. Now, Winecoff.Org has determined to near certainty that the funeral pictured here was that of Emelda Reeves, 21, at Mount Zion Methodist Church in Hapeville, Georgia.
Emelda Reeves died in the Winecoff fire
The Salvation Army played a key role in identifying several of the fire's victims as well as caring for many others displaced by the fire. Emelda Reeves left behind a husband and a son.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Dickerson Family Photos Newly Acquired

Will, Bill, Mary and Mary Melinda Dickerson

A bright future awaited Will and Mary Dickerson in post-war Georgia. Will, a Washington & Lee University graduate and a World War II veteran, worked as a lawyer for the Georgia Labor Department at the state capitol. He was a heroic figure in his hometown of Douglas, Ga. More here.

Mary was from a prominent Carterville, Ga. family. She'd attended the Florida State College for Women. The Dickerson family was staying at Atlanta's Winecoff Hotel while their new home was being built in Jonesboro, Ga. They all died of suffocation in room 1630 on the hotel's top floor. Their story is told on pages 111 and 112 of The Winecoff Fire: The Untold Story of America's Deadliest Hotel Fire.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Separated by Fire


Harold and Robert Irvin
Two brothers, both recently discharged Navy pilots, came to the Winecoff Hotel but only one left alive. Harold Irvin, 23, perished in the 1946 fire but his older brother Robert, 26, escaped.

Robert Irvin  1920 - 2014
Robert Irvin
Harold Irvin
Winecoff fire survivor Robert Irvin passed away on Father’s Day, 2014. His brother Harold died in the 1946 fire at age 23. Both were Navy pilots who flew together in World War II until Robert was sent back to the United States to train more pilots while Harold served on a torpedo bomber squadron.


By 1946 the brothers were in Atlanta to interview for jobs as commercial pilots and staying at the Winecoff Hotel. It is believed that Harold had been offered a job as an Eastern Airline pilot. Friday night December 6th Harold and Robert were together, attending a party in the hotel, until Robert retired to room 806. Harold remained at the party. A few hours later they were separated by fire and only Robert survived. He was rescued by ladder from the eighth floor, as high as the ladders would reach. "I went down the ladder and left everything that I had in the room except the clothes that I had on," he said.

Robert Irvin later become a Delta Airlines pilot and flew for Delta until his retirement.

Robert A. Irvin Remained a Pilot Until Retirement
Photos courtesy of Robert K. Irvin

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