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The Cocoanut Grove fire 70th anniversary

Cocoanut Grove Lounge

Boston Globe Photo

Nov. 29 1942 Firemen shot water from a hose into the Cocoanut Grove Lounge through the windows.

A match was lit so that a missing light bulb could be replaced. The fire that raced across the ceiling would quickly spread to engulf the entire night club, Boston’s swanky Coconut Grove. Officials needed days to tally the dead, eventually reaching a shocking total of 492 victims, with many more injured. The club had been well beyond capacity, with over 1000 patrons crowded into three main rooms. Doors for escape had been locked, and people were trapped by those and by thick brick glass windows. The tragedy led to changes nationally in fire safety codes and advanced the pracice of treating burn victims. It remains the worst fire in Boston history.

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