Friday, March 25, 2011

Triangle Factory Fire Part 2

Now a bit more information. The company's offices were on the 10th floor with the machines and factory workers occupying the 8th and 9th floors.Blanck and Harris had a million dollar a year business mass producing the item most women wanted: the shirtwaist. The men were known as The Shirtwaist Kings, even though they had been successful, according to them they were always under attack. That's because after 20 yrs. the shirtwaist was falling out of favor among modern women. the women waned colorful dresses and no matter what Triangle did such as embroidry they were losing profits. Plus the cost of material and shipping were rising.  So when  the strikes of 1909, with the beatings and the arrest of the women, took place it made matters worse.

With the exception of the Triangle workers, all he others were fine with the outcome of the strike. So time marches on until that fateful day. It was as the work day was ending on March 25,1911 that all hell broke loose on the 8th floor at about 4:45 pm. Although smoking was banned in the building, cutters were know to sneak cigarettes. A cigarette butt or a match in a bin is or by a sewing machine engine is thought to have caused the fire. A bookkeeper on the 8th was able to phone and warn the employees on the 10th floor by telephone, but with no audible alarms or any way to get in contact with the workers on the 9th floor. According to a survivor the warning arrived the same time the fire did. Some of the workers were able to get out via the elevator, the stairs and the fire escape while Blanck and Harris went to the roof. machine operators looked for a way out because the everyday exit onto Greene Street was blocked by smoke and fire. Some women fled onto a fire escape to the back alley. While others ran to two tiny passenger elevators that led to Washington Place.  In three minutes time the fire escape became unstable and pulled away from the masonry. The victims fell nearly 100 feet to their deaths. The elevator operators made 3 trips up to the 9th floor but one  had to quit when the rails on it buckled under the heat. Because of that workers pried open the doors and flung themselves down the elevator shaft on to the top of the elevators. With the bodies on the last elevator it could no longer make any more runs to the 9 th floor. There was one last chance for the victims, opening the locked door to Washington Place. But there was no key.They waited until the smoke and flames overtook them.
  In 5 minutes since the alarm was raised thousand or more people gathered around the building while the firemen raised their ladders to its full extension but they fell 30 feet short. The fire was put out in 30 minutes. three hours later the firemen were lowering the bodies down by block and tackle. Of the 500 employees 146 were dead.

I hope you can get something from these posts. God bless the workers and their families. May it never happen again.




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