This is the site of the worst hotel fire in U.S. history. In the predawn hours of December 7, 1946, the Winecoff Hotel fire killed 119 people. The 15-story building still stands adjacent to this marker. At the time, this building had neither fire escapes, fire doors, nor sprinklers. For two and a half hours, Atlanta fire fighters and others from nearby towns battled valiantly in the cold to save the majority of the 280 guests. But their ladders reached only to the eighth floor and their nets were not strong enough to withstand jumps of more than 70 feet. Therefore numerous guests died on the sidewalks and in the alley behind the building. Thirty of the 119 victims were among Georgia's most promising high school students, who had come to Atlanta to attend the YMCA's Youth Assembly at the Capitol. The Winecoff fire became the watershed event in fire safety. Within days, cities across America began enacting more stringent safety ordinances. The fact that the Winecoff fire remains the worst hotel fire in U.S. history is testimony to its impact on modern fire safety codes.
This marker is dedicated to the victims, the survivors, and the firemen who fought the Winecoff fire.