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March 23, 1993 

This is a 40-minute tape highlighting the most tragic fire in recent Chicago history.

The Paxton Hotel fire occurred on March 23, 1993 at 1432 N LaSalle in Chicago.   The Paxton Hotel was a four story brick constructed hotel measuring 75 feet by 125 feet.  The Paxton Hotel was a singe room occupancy (S.R.O.) type hotel.  Most residents of the Paxton made the hotel their permanent or semi-permanent home.

The initial call came into Chicago's Main Fire Alarm Office at      .  A still alarm assignment consisting of two engines, two trucks, a squad and a battalion chief were sent.  Upon arrival the first engine reported they had a little smoke showing and that they were investigating.    Approximately 60 seconds later companies were screaming to escalate the alarm to a "Still and Box".   That was soon followed by an EMS Plan I, which would bring five ambulances to the scene.

By the time the fire was under control five alarms would be requested (5-11), as well as 1 special call, bringing a total of 24 engines, 10 trucks, 5 battalion chiefs and Squad 1.    An EMS Plan II, and then finally an EMS Plan III would be requested, bringing over 15 ambulances to the scene.

First arriving fire companies were faced with residents hanging from windows on the second, third, and fourth floors of the hotel.   Residents on the first floors of the Paxton Hotel were trapped in their rooms due to burglar bars.   Within minutes every ground ladder available was being thrown to rescue residents on the upper floors.   Nearly all initial fire resources were focused on making rescues, and over 100 rescues were made by the Chicago Fire Department.

Sadly an estimated 19 people died in this most tragic fire.   The final death total is somewhat uncertain because some people were completely incinerated in the fire.

The Paxton Hotel fire video is a combination of footage shot by videographers Kenneth Herzlich and David Lasker.   Herzlich was one of the first to arrive at the scene of the fire and has footage unlike any other fire or rescue video seen anywhere.   Herzlich arrived soon after first in fire companies and captured numerous rescues, which is what the first part of this tape focuses on.   

The second part of the video focuses on the fire attack operations.   By the time the majority of rescues were made the fire was raging out of control.    Also seen on the second part of the tape is the huge medical triage area which was set up to handle the numerous victims. 

The third section of the tape shows the ruins the next day as crews were taking the building apart in an attempt to locate victims in the rubble.

The last section of the tape shows Chicago Fire Department Commissioner Raymond Orozco at a "thank you" breakfast giving a speech when he acknowledged many people for their important roles and life saving actions during this incredible fire.

The Paxton Hotel fire videotape is unlike any other fire videotape anywhere.  From the initial problems the first arriving companies were faced with to the fire suppression, rescue, medical triage, and recovery operations, this tape shows the Paxton Hotel tragedy from many angles.  The ground ladder rescue footage is phenomenal and makes a great supplement to ladder and truck rescue training programs.

This tape is not only for fire buffs, but makes a great aide for any fire department training program.

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