DISASTER: Death Before Dawn

It was 2 a.m. and cold; the thermometer stood at 19°. In the hushed buildings of Mercy Hospital in Davenport, Iowa, nurses worked at the desks, hurried soundlessly down hushed corridors on errands of the deep night. A nurse paused at a window, glanced out into the darkness, caught her breath in horror; thin patches of snow in the yard were lighted with the red glare of flames. She raced down the corridor to spread the alarm. As she did, the hospital's St. Elizabeth mental ward, a 60-year-old frame building, was spewing smoke and flame. Trapped in its rooms and...

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