On the day of the most tragic fatal incident in the Twin Cities, Lewiston Evening Journal reporter Arch Souter filed a story for the afternoon newspaper that’s worth reprinting in part:

“Sixteen babies, some of them children of servicemen, and one adult lie dead at Dillingham’s morgue in Auburn today in the terrible toll of life in this community’s worst fire. They were taken from the Lacoste Babies’ Home at 195 South Main Street, Auburn, where an explosion at about 5:30 in the kitchen stove fired the little one-and-a-half-story wooden building in which at least 25 souls were living. Within a few minutes, the entire structure was a raging furnace, from which, by some miracle, eight escaped with their lives.

“The early morning tragedy has focused the attention of all New England on the ‘baby farm’ and today calls are pouring in from every section for more details on a story which even eclipses the important war news.

“A shiver and a shudder has gone up from every home where a baby’s cry or a child’s laugh is heard. And the Journal has been swamped with calls from distressed parents whose hearts go out to the unfortunate parents of these helpless children who never had a chance.

“Meanwhile, local and state authorities are investigating.

“In the confused and hectic setting of the Baby Farm, fire officials were having a difficult time to construct an accurate picture of what took place this morning when the 16 tiny lives were snuffed out.”

The front page of the Lewiston Evening Journal on January 31, 1945.The front page of the Lewiston Evening Journal on January 31, 1945. Newspapers.com

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