Thu, 21 January 2016
At the glorious height of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, a new opera house was built in the middle of its capital, Vienna. On the night of December 8, 1881, Vienna’s elite came to the theater to watch Offenbach’s “Tales of Hoffman.” When lighting the gas lights, the stage hand acciddently ignited the curtains behind him. Although Vienna had established procedures for preventing fires, those procedure were not followed and the curtain burst into flames in front of hundreds of terrified theater-goers.
On the night of December 30, 1903, Chicago's Iroquois theater was staging a performance of Mr. Blubeard. That day the theater was packed to beyond capacity in violation of existing city fire codes. In the middle of the second act, an electrical spark touched off a curtain. Attempts to smother the fire only made it spread higher, and an attempt to lower an asbestos fire curtain failed. The theater packed with mostly women and children went into a panic.
In 2003, an excited Warwick, Rhode Island packed the Station nightclub to beyond capacity to see the band Great White. A pyrotechnic display designed for outdoor use only was set off for fifteen seconds. In less time than that it started a fire in the foam acoustic walls that spread with startling rapidity. Confused concertgoers did not move quickly enough to escape the flames.
Direct download: Episode_23_-_Three_Theater_Fires.mp3
Category:Social and Culture -- posted at: 9:29pm PST