On this day in 1949, St. Anthony’s Hospital experienced a serious fire that resulted in the deaths of 77 individuals and destroyed the facility. At the time, the institution had between 100-120 beds. No one, to this day, knows how the fire started. But without a sprinkler system, and other modern fire safety features, the blaze was devastating to the hospital. The kitchen was the only portion of the building that escaped mostly undamaged.
In the brief time that the fire ravished the hospital, acts of bravery from hospital staff, firefighters, and community made all the difference.
As a result of the fire, Effingham built a modernized, and safer, hospital. The tragedy also encouraged national efforts to ensure that hospitals minimized their fire risk and had safety plans in place.
At the time of the fire, Zona B. Davis, contacted WCRA and made it her task to deliver up-to-date information on the tragedy and to help people find their loved ones. Because of her efforts, WCRA hired her on as News Director. 11 years later, she penned a letter about the events of the fire entitled “Greater Lover Hath No Man…” In honor of those who lost their lives, WCRA is proud to bring you that letter as narrated by Zona’s son, and legendary broadcaster, Paul Davis.