Collinwood School fire

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Aftermath of the Collinwood School Fire

On Ash Wednesday, March 4, 1908, 172 students, teachers and a rescuer were killed in Collinwood, Ohio, now part of Cleveland. Started by a steam pipe overheating a wooden joist, it quickly spread because of a long, main staircase which lead to the third floor. The building contained a brick exterior. Its interior was made almost entirely of combustible wooden materials—stairs, walls, floors, doors, and roof. Moreover, the floors had been coated many times with flammable oils.

It was originally thought that the students were unable to escape because the doors of the school opened inward. Panic was the cause of so many dying in the stairwell. Some children burned or jumped as parents watched, helpless to save them.

Nineteen students could not be identified and the City of Collinwood purchased a grave in Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland for these children.

This tragedy caused the improvement of fire codes across the nation according to the website Dead Ohio.[1]