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Our Lady of the Angels (OLA) School Fire, December 1, 1958

Personal Experiences with Our Lady of the Angels School Fire

If you have a personal experience, recollection or opinion about the December 1, 1958 Our Lady of the Angels school fire, whether you were present at the fire or not, you can relate it here. Any story or information is welcome as long as it relates to Our Lady of the Angels school fire.
Click here to add your OLA fire experience.

Posted by: Debi Kopis Rollinson On: 12/3/2022 ID: 705
At OLA on 12/1/58? Born before or after 12/1/58? Where Lived on 12/1/58?
No Before 932 N. Hamlin Ave.
We lived about 1/2 block from the school. On the day of the fire, I was 4 1/2 years old and was playing on our back porch when I saw the smoke. I told my mom and in a panic, she rushed with me down to the school to find my brother. It took awhile to find him because of the crowds and mass confusion. Fortunately, he was on the first floor and escaped without injury. Sadly, a friend and neighbor Mark Stachura, died in the fire.
Blessings to all the victims, families and friends of OLA.


Posted by: S W Trok On: 12/2/2022 ID: 704
Enrolled on 12/1/58? Present on 12/1/58? Injured? Age Grade Classroom Teacher
Yes Yes No 10 5 107 Don’t remember
I was very fortunate to survive the horrible fire unharmed. My thoughts and prayers are still with the friends and families that lost loved ones during this tragedy.


Posted by: Susan On: 12/1/2022 ID: 703
At OLA on 12/1/58? Born before or after 12/1/58? Where Lived on 12/1/58?
No After n/a
My Godparents lost their only daughter in that fire. They never really recovered from that devastation. Also, that fire was the reason my mom and dad decided to move to the suburbs where there were more modern built schools that would be safer for my sister and me. Praying for you today, Karen, certain that you are singing with the heavenly angels worshiping God.


Posted by: Richard "Dick" Chainey On: 1/11/2022 ID: 702
At OLA on 12/1/58? Born before or after 12/1/58? Where Lived on 12/1/58?
No After n/a
The fire was big and it was a sad story


Posted by: Jimmy Bob (Jimbo) On: 1/11/2022 ID: 701
At OLA on 12/1/58? Born before or after 12/1/58? Where Lived on 12/1/58?
No After n/a
the fire was really sad and upsetting.


Posted by: abby On: 1/11/2022 ID: 700
At OLA on 12/1/58? Born before or after 12/1/58? Where Lived on 12/1/58?
No After n/a
In school we learned about the fire


Posted by: Rosalie (Guzzo)O’Brien On: 1/2/2022 ID: 699
Enrolled on 12/1/58? Present on 12/1/58? Injured? Age Grade Classroom Teacher
Yes Yes No 13 8 209 Sr. Davids
Happy New Year to my fellow classmates. Hopefully if you saw the New Years Eve celebration in New York this year you saw Jonathan (Friga) Cain from Journey perform. He was a third grader at the time of the fire. You make us proud Jonathan. God bless you all.


Posted by: Thomas Kaufmann On: 12/1/2021 ID: 698
At OLA on 12/1/58? Born before or after 12/1/58? Where Lived on 12/1/58?
No After n/a
Today, on the 63rd anniversary of this terrible tragedy, let us remember all the brave Firemen, Parents, Rescuers, Doctors, Nurses and everyone who somehow touched the lives of those involved on this dark day.
May God continue to provide healing to the survivors and always shelter the victims in the palm of his hand. God bless.


Posted by: Anthony On: 8/3/2021 ID: 697
Enrolled on 12/1/58? Present on 12/1/58? Injured? Age Grade Classroom Teacher
Yes Yes No 6 1 on hamlin
i was in first grade at the time of the fire. my cousin was in 6th grade at the time we used to meet at the front of the school and she would walk me home. this day when we were let out of school, i rushed to the main building and all....ire trucks hoses and people screaming i was so panicked i was paralyzed. a firefighter grabbed me by the collar and swatted me on the ass. he told me to run home and don't look back i ran as fast as i could without my cousin and i got back to my home on keeler. i remember i could not get the smell of smoke out of my nose. My cousin made it home safely but we never ever discussed what we experienced


Posted by: emilyd On: 7/17/2021 ID: 696
At OLA on 12/1/58? Born before or after 12/1/58? Where Lived on 12/1/58?
No After n/a
I thought the OLA community would be interested in this story from the University of Tennessee:

Once Burned, Masterfully Treated
By Sheila Champlin

Some men see things as they are and say ‘why?’ I dream of things that never were and say ‘why not?’ ” George Bernard Shaw wrote that famous quotation, which could be a personal motto for UT College of Medicine graduate Dr. A. Richard Grossman (’57).

It all started in 1958 at Cook County Hospital in Chicago. A catastrophic fire struck Our Lady of Angels parochial elementary school, killing 93 children and 4 nuns. Many of the victims were so badly burned, it was impossible to determine whether they were girls or boys. Young Dr. Grossman was the resident surgeon on duty in the emergency room.

That horrific experience had a profound and lasting impact. Not only did it cause him to question methods of burn care, it became the driving force behind his vision to create an innovative world-class comprehensive burn treatment center.

“I wanted to create a facility that would provide the best burn care available anywhere,” says Grossman, “but the goal was not just to ensure the survival of the patient. Our goal was to restore patients to as close to their pre-injury condition as possible—functionally, emotionally, and cosmetically.”

After relocating to Los Angeles, Grossman took a significant step toward achieving his vision. In 1969 he convinced Sherman Oaks Community Hospital, located in a suburb of Los Angeles, to devote two beds exclusively to burn care. By 1978 the burn center at Sherman Oaks had expanded into a freestanding 30-bed specialty unit.

A second Grossman Burn Center was opened at Western Medical Center in Santa Ana, California, in 1995. The 7-bed inpatient unit is an intensive care facility, equipped to handle the most severe burn cases, as well as to offer intermediate care for patients with less severe burns. Operating in tandem with the hospital, the center also provides outpatient burn care, surgical suites, hydrotherapy, and access to all the services and support of a large medical system.

Today the two Grossman centers rank among the largest and most comprehensive in the world. They are ­plastic-surgery–based and specialize in comprehensive burn treatment that ranges from acute care and reconstruction to rehabilitation and psychological counseling. --