Australia's Deadliest Building Fire


The William Booth Memorial Home


In 1966 a fire ripped through Melbourne’s William Booth Memorial Home for destitute and alcoholic men. Although it remains Australia's deadliest building fire, it is, like the 30 men who died in that fire — forgotten. This shocking narrative describes the inferno’s origin and progression, the slowly festering blaze that developed into an explosive backdraft. It recalls the efforts of the firemen who tried, against impossible odds, to rescue the dying men. They alone do not forget the caged men, the makeshift mortuaries and the anonymous burial of the ‘nobodies’. As if cursed, the Salvation Army were struck with another deadly building fire in Adelaide in 1975. Seven men, trapped in a suspended alley hellfire, were lost when it crashed to the ground.

Since the William Booth tragedy 163 people have died in building fires in Australia, the latest in the Quakers Hill Nursing Home in 2011 where 14 died. Thousands have died worldwide and all of these deaths could have been prevented. To this day the main lesson has not been learnt. A lifesaving device, available before the invention of the light bulb, is still absent in many buildings.


The Age - June 2016

The Age - August 2016

ABC Online - August 2016

Daily Telegraph - August 2016

Herald Sun - August 2016

(if The Herald Sun shows subscriber only then search deadliest building fire on the site)


Movietone News - 1966

Ten Eyewitness News - August 2016

Nine News - August 2016

ABC  - August 2016

50th Anniversary Service - August 2016

50th Anniversary Unveiling - August 2016


Fire Protection Association Australia Magazine - March 2015

Plaque Proposal - August 2016

Water Off article on the Plaque - August 2016



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