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The Iroquois Theater Fire of 1903

The Iroquois Theater Fire of 1903

Vaudeville comic actor Eddie Foy was performing in a revue called Blue Beard at the Iroquois Theater in Chicago during a holiday matinee on Dec. 30, 1903 when a light fell backstage and started a fire. Many audience members could not escape because exit doors were locked and it beame the deadliest theater fire and the deadliest single-building fire in United States history. At least 605 people died as a result of the fire but not all the deaths were reported, as some of the bodies were removed from the scene. It is estimated that at least half of the victims were children. A combination of fire disasters in Chicago including this one, the fire of 1871, and the Our Lady of Angels School Fire of 1958 eventually led to strong life safety codes in Illinois over the years.

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