Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire 1911
141 Mena and Girls Die in Shirtwaist Factory Fire
Jump before Firemen Arrive
According to several eye witnesses, the flames were pouring from the windows and the girls jumping to the sidewalk for several minutes before the first fire truck with ladders arrived. Benjamin Levy of 995 Freeman Street, the Bronx, one of the first men to arrive at the burning building, says that it was all of ten minutes after the fire started before the first engine arrived. Mr. Levy is the junior member of the firm of I. Levy & Son, wholesale clothing manufacturers, just around the corner, at 3 and 5 Waverley Place. “I was upstairs in our work-room,” said he, “when one of the employees who happened to be looking out of the window cried that there was a fire around the corner. I rushed downstairs, and when I reached the sidewalk the girls were already jumping from the windows. None of them moved after they struck the sidewalk. Several men ran up with a net which they got somewhere, and I seized one side of it to help them hold it. “It was about ten feet square and we managed to catch about fifteen girls. I don’t believe we saved over one or two, however. The fall was so great that they bounced to the sidewalk after striking the net. Bodies were falling all around us, and two or three of the men with me were knocked down. The girls just leaped wildly out of the windows and turned over and over before reaching the sidewalk. “I only saw one man jump. All the rest were girls. They stood on the window sills, tearing their hair out in handfuls, and then they jumped. “One girl held back after all the rest and clung to the window casing until the flames from the windows below crept up to her and set her clothing on fire. Then she jumped far over the net and was killed instantly, like all the rest.” One of the policemen who were checking up the bodies as they were being shipped to the Morgue told of one heap in which a girl was found still alive when the others were taken off her. She died before an ambulance doctor could reach her.