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Major American Fires: Cocoanut Grove Fire- 1942

Cocoanut Grove Fire: Introduction

The Cocoanut Grove fire occurredPhoto of Cocoanut Grove on fire on November 28, 1942 in Boston, Massachusetts. 492 people were killed, making it the deadliest nightclub fire in U.S. History. The club was filled beyond capacity that night; though the building's capacity was supposed to be 460 people, it is estimated that over 1000 people were in attendance. The club had a complex layout; it was originally a garage and warehouse but had undergone renovations and expansions over the years. There were paper and cloth decorations on the walls and ceilings, which helped the fire spread quickly. The fire started in a basement lounge and quickly blocked the basement's public exit. The people on the main floor only became aware of the fire when it had reached that floor. People rushed to the main door, which was a revolving door and quickly became jammed. Other doors were locked, while some unlocked doors opened inward and were unusable due to the number of people pushing against them.


Nightclub Fires


In this video by the NFPA, survivors of the Cocoanut Grove fire describe their experiences.

In this video, Casey Grant, research director of the Fire Protection Research Foundation of the NFPA, gives a presentation on the Cocoanut Grove Fire and the changes in fire regulations, emergency response, and medical treatment that were enacted in response to the fire.

Primary Sources