Category Archives: History

This Day in Fire History…..

115 Years Ago Today…
A fire in the Iroquois Theater in Chicago, Illinois, kills more than 600 people on this day in 1903. It was the deadliest theater fire in U.S. history. Blocked fire exits and the lack of a fire-safety plan caused most of the deaths.

The Iroquois Theater, designed by Benjamin Marshall in a Renaissance style, was highly luxurious and had been deemed fireproof upon its opening in 1903.

During the matinee performance of December 30, while a full house was watching Eddie Foy star in Mr. Bluebeard, 27 of the theater’s 30 exits were locked. In addition, stage manager Bill Carlton went out front to watch the show with the 2,000 patrons while the other stage hands left the theater and went out for a drink. It was a spotlight operator who first noticed that one of the calcium lights seemed to have sparked a fire backstage. The cluttered area was full of fire fuel–wooden stage props and oily rags.

As a result of this fire all commercial occupancies were required to have the “Panic Bars” so as to allow anyone the ability to press the bar and unlock the door for exiting.

This Day in Fire History…

Cocoanut Grove Fire…

Anyone leaving a department store may have wondered why a central revolving door is often flanked by hinged doors on either side.

That’s one legacy of the Cocoanut Grove Fire, where so many died as they tried to exit the club’s single revolving door.

On this day in 1942, 492 people (which was 32 more than the building’s authorized capacity) lost their lives at the Cocoanut Grove restaurant/supper club (nightclubs did not officially exist in Boston).

In less than 15 minutes, 492 people were dead and another 166 injured, making the blaze the deadliest nightclub fire in U.S. history.

The official cause of the fire is undetermined but is rumored to have been caused by a busboy lighting a match to reinstall a light bulb, igniting a fake palm tree.

Boston Herald Article

Boston Fire History Article

Outside the Cocoanut Grove

Lounge Bar

This Day in Fire History…

The Station Nightclub Fire…

Today we remember the fourth-deadliest nightclub fire in US history, killing 100 people, and the second deadliest in New England, surpassed by the 1942 Cocoanut Grove fire which resulted in 492 deaths.

The Station Nightclub had 462 people in attendance that night of which 100 perished and 230 were injured.

The fire started just seconds into the band’s opening song when pyrotechnics set off ignited flammable acoustic foam on both sides and the top center of the drummer’s alcove at the back of the stage.

This fire directly affected numerous fire codes in Rhode Island and changed a national code that now requires any nightclub made to hold more than 100 people MUST be sprinkled.

First few seconds of the fire.