Fires (Disasters) by Ann Weil

By Ann Weil

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Almost all of them got out alive. They ran out a door behind the stage. But the tightrope walker stuck high above the stage died. The blast of cold air from that open door blew the fire into the audience. Flames and smoke whipped through the seating area and up into the balcony. Children cried out for their mothers. Mothers screamed for their children. The audience panicked. The lights had gone out. No one could see in the smoky darkness. There were iron gates over many of the exit doors. Some of these gates were locked.

Sometimes smokejumpers stay in the forest for weeks looking for places where another fire could start. A wildfire not only destroys the natural habitat, it could also destroy homes and other buildings. Smokejumpers want to stop fires before they get this far. 62 Bibliography Balcavage, Dynise. The Great Chicago Fire. Great Disasters, Reforms and Ramifications. Broomall, PA: Chelsea House Publishers, 2002. Landau, Elaine. Fires. Watts Library. New York: Franklin Watts, 1999. Shields, Charles J. The Great Plague and Fire of London.

The 1903 Iroquois Theater fire was especially sad. Many of the victims were children and their mothers. It was December 30th. Schools were closed for the holidays. That afternoon’s show was sold out. More than 1,900 people crowded into the six-story theater. They were there to see a musical comedy. There would be singing and dancing. They were looking forward to a fun time. Instead, it turned into a horrible nightmare. 42 Theater Fires There had been many tragic theater fires before. Theater fires were a big problem in the United States and Europe.

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