Global & Disaster Medicine

12/8/1881: A fire at the Ring Theater in Vienna, Austria, kills at least 620 people and injures hundreds more

History

  • The theater’s iron fire curtain was not lowered
  • Available water hoses were not used immediately.
  • The stage managers panicked and shut off the gas totally, cutting off light in the theater.
  • The balconies became clogged as the exits jammed.
  • A fire brigade brought ladders, but they were too short to reach even the first balcony.
  • Some people jumped from the balconies, not only killing themselves but also crushing people on the ground floor.

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