Fire Captain Looks Back at Deadly Nursing Home Fire

When a disturbed resident set fire to her bedroom at Greenwood Health Center on Feb. 26, 2003, she set in motion a crackdown on nursing homes without sprinklers that is still spreading across the country.

She also gave Capt. James McLoughlin, now executive officer of the Hartford Fire Department, some vivid memories of the fire that killed 16 people. 

More than 100 people lived in the complex, which is now called the Park Place Health Center.

"They were lying in bed or in wheelchairs and unable to help themselves," he said. "When you get into the building, it's filled with smoke from top to bottom and you can't see.

"We weren't sure if there was one occupant, two occupants, or three occupants per room," he said.  "It was confusion and chaos."

He was in the second wave of firefighters to enter the complex.

As deputy chief's aide, McLoughlin had to go back into the complex after the fire with a floor plan and document where each body had been found.

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