Fatal German Hotel Fire
Germany suffered its first fatal hotel catastrophe since the end of World War II when, on October 21, fire brought death to twenty-eight persons, nineteen of them women, in the burning of the Wanderlust Hotel at Luisenburg, near Wunsiedel, Northern Bavaria.
The fire broke out about 5:00 A. M., in the 5-story structure which had an adjoining dance hall. Originally catering to the tourist trade, the building was since occupied as an asylum for old and disabled refugees.
As the fire, caused, it is said, by hot ashes dumped too near stored brush and kindling wood, spread upward from the lower sections, the stairs were cut off. Only the families of both the hotel keeper and the superintendent of the asylum (who was absent himself the morning of the fire were able to save their lives by jumping from the windows of the third floor. Residents of the hotel who occupied the fourth and fifth floors, were for the most part trapped by the rapid advance of the flames. They either were suffocated by the smoke or burned to death.
When fire departments from surrounding villages and towns eventually arrived, the building had already collapsed.
This fire brought to the fore the realization that Germany’s lack of coal has considerably increased the fire risk because of the accumulated storages of brush and kindling wood. This fuel is now piled around almost every residence and lodging house so that fire, once started on the outside, can easily spread to adjacent structures. At the same time, it is reported that fire risks have been increased by the great number of families, mostly refugees and bombed-out persons, who are lodging in nearly every city residence or farmhouse. To accommodate these additional lodgers, combustible partitions have been erected, and additional stoves installed, which constitute added fire hazards.