Ville Platte, LA Dance Hall Fire, Nov 1919
25 Killed, 15 Hurt, In Dance Hall Fire
Many Mothers Give Their Lives to Save Babies in Ville Platte, La.
Passed Them Over Barrier
Terror-Stricken Mass Blocked the Only Exit-Fifteen Died In Crush.
Special to The New York Times.
Ville Platte, La., Nov. 23.-Several mothers sacrificed their lives to save their children in last night’s fire horror, which cost not less that twenty-five in dead and fifteen seriously injured, mostly women and girls. Survivors of the fire today described the devotion manifested by these women to their young ones as of the most inspiring sort.
The ball given on the second floor of the Deville Building last night, had hardly begun before the frightful disaster happened. An oil stove in charge of a 12-year-old boy, who was making coffee in a rear room of the P.D. Martin grocery store, which was in the Deville Building, exploded and the flames spread quickly before the 3000 people attending the ball on the second floor could begin finding their way to safety.
The flames had risen high. A panic ensued, a majority of men, women, and children in the crowd making a concerted rush for the one exit, with the result that the stairway became virtually blocked, a barrier of struggling, terror-stricken people cutting off the ones inside.
Shrieks and moans of the weaker ones being crushed and trodden underfoot filled the air. Fifteen of the twenty-five known dead were killed in the panic. Self-sacrificing mothers of about twenty babies had come to the ball chaperoning their daughters. Latest accounts are that every infant was saved, though several of the mothers perished. Their safety was secondary to that of their offspring. Some of them passed their babies forward with the aid of other persons in the jammed exit until the infants were out of the building. Others deliberately flung the wee ones over the heads of the human wall that cut off the means of egress.
First reports indicated that the babies were lost, which would have placed the total lives lost at about fifty, but this was due to the great confusion that prevailed.
Ville Platte, La., Nov. 22.-The identified dead in the fire at Ville Platte last night are:
Miss ANNA ROBIERO, MRS. OCTAV BARRE, MISS ETTA BARRE, MISS LENA GUILLORY, MR. and MRS. CURLEY SOLIEAY and daughter, ANDRE VIDRENE, MRS. ZELMA JOHNSON, CULVER WEST, BERNADAT FOTENOT, and MISS OZETTE BUILLON. Other bodied recovered have not been identified.
The New York Times, New York, NY 24 Nov 1919