Arson attack on the Blue Bird bar in 1972.
50 years ago, Montreal experienced one of the most tragic arson attacks in its history. Our archives look back on the events that cost the lives of more than thirty young people at the Blue Bird bar on the evening of September 1, 1972.
The Blue Bird was a bar located at 1172 Union Street, Montreal. It consisted of the Cocktail lounge on the ground floor and the Wagon Wheel, a country bar which was on the floor above.
On September 1, 1972, around 10 p.m., three young people asked the doorman for a table near that of a group of friends, which the doorman refused them because the bar was already crowded. Already in a very drunken state, they are then denied access to the bar.
The three young men in their twenties, Gilles Eccles, Jean-Marc Boutin and James O'Brien, decide to take revenge by doused the stairwell of the establishment and setting it on fire.
That evening, like several other very busy evenings, the owner of the Blue Bird, Léopold Paré, had the door of the emergency exit blocked, because some young people were rushing in to avoid paying their entrance fees.
Report by Gilles Payette who looks back on the arson attack on the Blue Bird 15 years after the events.
At Téléjournal, September 1, 1987, journalist Gilles Payette presents a report made up of archive footage from 1972.
The fire started around 11 p.m. and the fire quickly spread through the Wagon Wheel compound.
Inside, there was panic. The emergency exit is impassable because it is locked. A wall of young people trying to break down the door is forming.
In the Téléjournal of September 2, 1972, the lieutenant of police of the city of Montreal, Laurent Lévis, give a press briefing.
Press briefing by Laurent Lévis, the Montreal police lieutenant, who was at the scene the evening of the Blue bird fire.
The lieutenant describes the chaos and the first aid operations.
Around 50 firefighters are taking part in the operations. They fought the flames for two and a half hours while other colleagues tried to get the young people caught inside.
Individuals jumped out of the windows on the second floor to avoid the 'asphyxia. Union Street fills with hysterical people trying to escape the scene by any means.
Tragedy 37 dead and 54 injured. Most of the victims are between 18 and 25 years old.
In the days that followed, Gilles Eccles went to the police while his two accomplices were arrested in Vancouver. They were sentenced to life imprisonment. They will be conditionally released 10 years later.
The bar owner was not held criminally responsible for the tragedy, but the City of Montreal and its fire department have been blamed.
Coroner Laurin Lapointe's inquest report showed that there was a discrepancy between the various regulations regarding the number of exits required in public places.< /p>
The mayor at the time Jean Drapeau settled amicably with the families of the victims granting them amounts between $1,000 and $3,000
Reporting by Solveig Miller who attends the memorial ceremony and unveiling of the monument for the victims of the Blue bird bar fire in 1972. The newscast is hosted by Philippe Schobb.
On August 31, 2012, on Téléjournal, journalist Solveig Miller presents a report where Mayor Gérald Tremblay presides over a commemorative ceremony 40 years after the tragedy.
In the presence of members of the families of the victims, a slab containing the names of the disappeared was unveiled in Phillips Square, not far from the scene of the tragedy.
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