Friday, March 25, 2011

The New York Factory Fire -- March 25, 2011

From the Valentine, Nebraska Democrat, 06-April-1911. Today the Republicans are trying to destroy the right to collective bargaining and roll back workplace safety rules.


Fire Marshal's Inquiry Reveals Fact
Workroom Was Death Trap -- 86 Victims Are Identified.

New York. Of the 141 employees, mostly girls and women killed in a fire in Triangle Shirtwaist factory at the corner of Greene street and Washington place Saturday, 86 have been identified.

Seventy of the bodies were those of girls and young women, the remaining sixteen those of men. There are 12 injured in the hospitals. Scores of others more or less seriously hurt were taken to their homes.

The building was occupied by a number of factories , and at least 1,500 persons were at work when the fire started.

The victims were either burned to death or were crushed into lifeless forms on the pavements when they leaped to escape the swift rush of fire<>

Not since the burning of the excursion steamer General Slocum , off North Brother's Island In 1904 , when 1,020 persons perished, has the city been so excited by a fire horror.

At least fifty of the victims were killed by leaping from the windows of >the seventh floor, and floors above.

Many perished in the flames on upper floors, remaining, afraid to leap until the fire surrounded them.

A great crowd gathered around the scene of the fire. Factories in the neighborhood were soon emptied of their employes.

Some of the revelations, brought out >by Fire Marshal Beers in his public inquiry into the causes of the fire show that the poor girls in that panic rush to escape from the flames found traps at every turn.

It seemed that the very arrangement of the workroom was a trap, with 700 women, jammed back to back at their machines. When the panic started, the narrow aisles became blocked with chairs and the girls were in confusion before they even started for the doors. Then there was a scarcity of exits, the inward opening doors and the death-trap "fire escapes."

"The fire, without any question, started from a cigarette or a match thrown into a pile of lawn clippings -- light cotton stuff , " said Marshal Beers.

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