Was the land itself cursed with murder and suicide, like many said?
What is 'the mystery of the 13 souls'?
What of the reports of hauntings which still exist throughout the building today?
A Devestating Fire
There had been fire safety concerns with the building since it's construction. No fire alarms, sprinklers, emergency lights or emergency exits were fitted at the time, and short cuts were made in regards to the buildings air-conditioning system.
It was an air-conditioner on the twelfth floor that started the inferno, its safety circuit breaker had been bypassed, and when it malfunctioned and overheated, it continued to run, causing the fire.
At the time of the fire, more than 750 people occupied the building, of which more than half were injured, with 179 fatalities.
Escaping the Flames
About 170 people made it out onto the roof but with the smoke and heat making it too dangerous for the rescue helicopters to land, people took their lives into their own hands. Many attempted to drop from floor to floor with the aim of reaching the fire ladders, that only reached the 15th floor (coincidentally the fire in the stairwell only made it to this floor).
Many people died in these attempts, as did all of those who hoped to survive jumping off the roof to the ground below. Everyone who attempted a free-fall from the roof died.
By midday the fire finally burned itself out and rescue, police and fire officers were able to enter the building to look for survivors, and to tally the dead. They reported there were bodies absolutely everywhere and eventually the death count was totaled at 179.
The Unidentified '13 Souls' and 'Home of the Devil'
As the fire and rescue crews moved from floor to floor and room to room while assessing the damage, they came across an elevator which was sealed shut. It took some effort to open the doors, which were finally pried, and what greeted the officers was appalling; a mass of bodies charred and burned piled on the floor and around the walls.
The heat in the metal box of the elevator had caused many of the bodies to partially fuse and it took a while to count 13 separate victims.
The identities of those 13 bodies was never found, and no one came forward to claim them. They were buried in St. Peter's Cemetery, side by side, and are known as the '13 Souls'.
Another story that has come to light concerns the land the Joelma Building was built on.
In 1948, a 26 year old chemist named Paul Campbell lived in a house on the land with his mother and two sisters. One evening, for no apparent reason Paul murdered his family, dragging the bodies outside before killing himself.
When the bodies were being removed one of recovery staff somehow became infected by a corpse (through a cut possibly) and he himself died soon after. It was at this point the locals referred to the land as being cursed.
The neighbourhood where the Campbell house, and later the Joelma building, was built (Anhangabau ) is known as the 'Home of the Devil'.
A Haunted building
The building is said to be incredibly haunted with much activity taking place. Every floor above the fifteenth seems to play host to a range of hauntings, from apparitions seen in the stairways, to fire alarms and elevators malfunctioning on occasion.
Sensitives who enter the building to seek out contact with the dead say that many energies roam the upper floors, with many of them being friendly presences. However they also report some dark and angry presences as well.
At the time of the fire, the Joelma Building fire had the highest number of deaths attributed to a skyscraper tragedy. This macabre record was only beaten when the World Trade Centre towers collapsed in New York City on September 11, 2001.