Today in fire history: the Hartford circus fire

Blog Post created by ryan.quinn Employee on Jul 6, 2011

Hartford Circus Fire On July 6, 1944, a fire at the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus led to the deaths of over 160 people. Most victims were women or children, over sixty were under 15 years of age.

It is thought that the fire was started by a discarded match or cigarette. The fire quickly engulfed the canvas "big top" sending patrons scrambling for the exits.  Most fatalities were due to severe burns, as the canvas fell onto the crowd, and it is likely that some were due to crushing by the crowd rushing to get out.

All visitors can download an article from the July 1944 edition of NFPA's The Quarterly. The article includes a newspaper article, and recommendations regarding circus fire safety.

-Ben Evarts