1970 - Police Charge Hotel Fire Deaths to 16-Year-Old Boy - AT LEAST 28 DIED.
By BILL ROBERTS
Associated Press Writer
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - Juvenile Court petitions alleging felony homicide and arson were filed today against a 16-year-old youth in a $2.5 million fire which killed 28 persons and injured 27 in a downtown hotel Sunday.
The youth was taken into custody near the scene of the early morning blaze, and questioned by police.
The petition identified him as Louis C. Taylor, four-time parolee from the State Industrial School for Boys.
Patrolman Claus Burgman said he arrested Taylor because he "was acting suspiciously and couldn't explain his presence in the building." Later, Burgman said Taylor â€œtold us a number of different stories about the fire. He said he was at the scene and saw the fire start, but claims he saw another boy do it."
Several survivors of the flames which raced through the upper half of the 12-story Pioneer International Hotel said they had smelled a volatile substance in the corridors.
The fire in the 41-year-old building broke out on the sixth floor and flared through hallways and staircases, penning about 60 persons in their rooms with no way out except through the windows.
One woman plunged to her death from the seventh floor.
Among the dead were 13 prominent northern Mexico citizens, including two grand children of former Sonora Gov. Ignacio Soto, the wife and five children of FRANCISCO LUKEN, Sonora police chief, and DR. JOSE JESUS ANTILLON of Hermosillo, one of his country's top cardiologists.
HAROLD STEINFELD, 82, builder of the hotel and owner of a department store died with his wife PEGGY in their penthouse apartment.
Many of the survivors said they awoke with smoke pouring into their rooms.
DR. LEWIS BECK of Rochester, N. Y., said the heat forced him out his sixth floor window and onto a ledge.
"I began to think I was going to die," he said.
"I figured a leap would kill me quickly. I wasn't going to be able to hold on much longer."
Then he saw a Case Grande, Ariz., physician, WILLIAM FORD, shoeless and blackened with smoke, inching down a drain pipe. BLACK joined him and both made it down to safety.
Two firemen were injured when a fire department ladder broke during the rescue attempts. CAPT. ELLIS FRANKLIN hung upside down for 25 minutes on a broken 45-foot ladder before he could be rescued.
On the ground floor 650 persons attending three Christmas banquets were evacuated safely.
The hotel was sold by STEINFELD in 1963.
Asst. Fire Chief R. B. Slagel said construction of the building was completed in 1929 and it was not subject to building code safety changes made later.
"Today all interior stairways must be totally enclosed - that is, there must be a door between the hallway and the stairway," Slagel said.
"Had this been the case here, the blaze probably would have confined to the original fire. The stairway acted like a chimney and the heat went right on up it and into the hallways."
Slagel said that, "if there had been a sprinkler system, no one would have died."
However, city fire safety laws do not require such systems.
Pioneer Hotel Fire Victims Listed
TUCSON (AP) - Here is a list of names of those who died in the Pioneer International Hotel fire, as reported by police. The fire claimed 28 lives.
1.HAROLD STEINFELD, 82, Tucson.
2.MRS. HAROLD (PEGGY) STEINFELD.
3.ABE SIMON, Tucson.
4.JOSEPH REBBE, Chicago.
5.MRS. JOSEPH REBBE.
6.HARVEY MALLERY, Tucson.
7.PAUL D'HEDOUVILLE, Washington, D.C.
8.D. P. SMELSER, Tucson.
9.MRS. ELLA GORDON, Tucson.
10.MRS. ELLI BELL GLOVER, Tucson.
11.MRS. ESTELLE KAUFMAN, Chicago.
12.MRS. VELMA DALE, Englewood, Colo.
13.MRS. BERNICE BOND - sister of MRS. DALE.
14.ROBERTO SOTO, 14, Hermosillo, Mex., grandson of former Sonora, Mex., Gov. Ignacio Soto.
15.IGNACIO SOTO, 10, brother of ROBERTO.
16.DR. JOSE JESUS ANTILLON, Hermosillo.
17.MRS. JOSE (IGNACIA) ANTILLON, wife of doctor.
18.NAVIER ANTILLON, 9, son.
19.MARTIN ANTILLON, 18, son.
20.CATALINA ANTILLON, 8, daughter.
21.MISS CARMALETA LUKEN, 19, Hermosillo.
22.MRS. FRANCISCO (ROSALIA) LUKEN, mother.
27.JEROME T. WRIGHT, Tucson.
28.MRS. BETTY ROGERS, Springfield, Ill.
The Yuma Daily Sun
December 21, 1970
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