The Nursing Home Fire in Quebec was indeed a tragedy felt across the country. 8 people confirmed dead and over 25 still missing. I can only imagine the grief of family members as they wait for authorities to shift through the debris and identify victims. A daunting and disturbing ordeal to say the least.
Newfoundland has also been touched by nursing home fires. The first occurred 66 years ago in 1948 in St. John’s at the Hull Home, situated on the corner of Springdale and New Gower Street. 34 people , ranging from the ages of 21 to 92 died in a raging fire during one of the coldest winters on record. Several jumped to their deaths from the three storey building to escape the flames. The second was the Chafe’s Nursing Home,36 years ago in the Goulds where 26 people perished.
Most people recall or have heard of the Chafe’s Nursing Home fire. My mother told me about the Hull Home Fire as she witnessed the devastation herself. I was shocked I’d never heard of it before and neither had anyone I spoke to. It bothered me that the senseless loss of life of so many helpless, sick people should slip forgotten (for the most part) into our past. So I wrote a fictional account of the fire, detailing many factual events.
Our local media’s coverage of the fire in Quebec spoke about the Chafe’s Nursing Home with no mention of Hull Home. I wondered if it was an oversight, or maybe it happened too far in the past, or maybe they had no knowledge of the fire. An event so tragic, so needless, so horrific should never be lost in time, but should serve as a constant reminder we have to do better to protect those who can’t protect themselves. The elderly and infirm deserve to be safe and secure.