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Scores Dead in Atlantic City Hotel Fire

Nov. 18, 1963 - Twenty-five persons were feared to have died today in a fire that swept a 60-room, 4-story hotel in Atlantic City, N.J. Twenty-three persons, including firemen and policemen, were injured. The fire broke out at 4:10 a.m. at the Surfside Hotel at 156 South Maryland Ave. The hotel, which is about 200 feet from the Boardwalk, catered principally to elderly persons, most of whom stayed for extended periods. Before the fire was brought under control five hours later, it had spread to six other hotels or guest houses on South Maryland Ave. and Virginia Ave. Police Capt. James Dooney, who was the first to arrive at the Surfside, said he had tried to enter the hotel but had been met by a “kind of a blowup.” “I heard screams and yelling, but I couldn’t tell where it all came from,” he said, adding that the hotel lobby was engulfed in flames. A fireman said: “The building was collapsing all around us. I heard hollering inside. There’s no doubt that there were still some others in the place.” Milton Rauer, owner of the hotel, who lived there with his wife, three sons, his mother and father-in-law, said: “It went so quickly. We all jumped out a back window.” As the Surfside was collapsing, a heavy wind from the ocean fanned the flames and spread the fire, hampering efforts to bring it under control. One fireman, John Jasper, carried a screaming woman down a fire escape. He said he had “managed to put some tin garbage pail tops over our heads to protect us from shooting sparks.” Minnie Dackman, 65, rescued by firemen from the second floor of the Surfside, told how she “ran down the corridor, opened the window, and screamed.” “My hair was sizzling,” she said.


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