Historical Fires School Fire New London, TX Summary On the afternoon of March 18th, 1937, 294 school going children as well as teachers died in a school fire in New London, Texas. This explosion was one of its kinds…
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The question was raised that where did the ignition come from? It probably is believed to have accumulated from any of the laboratories or places where shop work was going on. This incident allowed authorities to criticize school’s construction. (USFA, 2011) The Incident The richest and most finest schools of the country United States were located in New London, Texas in 1937 on the northwestern side of Rusk County where the residents of this community were immensely proud of the magnificent, modernized, E-shaped, steel-framed school building located on the Eastern Texas oilfields. In the afternoon of March 18, 1937, 18 students were preparing for Inter-scholastic meet which was scheduled next day in Houston. The Parent Teacher Meetingmet at the gymnasium. The manual training coach, Mr. Lemmie R. Butler switched on a sanding machine which comprised of a combination of air and gas but was not known to him. As he turned on the switch, it gave an ignite to the mixture of air and gas and took the flame into an almost trapped space situated underneath the building up to fifty-six feet wide and 353 feet long.(Hilliard,2012) Soon after that, everyone noticed that the building actually rose into the air and subsequently crashed into the ground. All the walls of the building smashed. The roof of the building came out and so all the students and the teachers lie there dead in a huge corpus of steel, brick and concrete. The remains of the explosion were thrown almost to a distance of 200 concrete slabs where it destroyed Chevrolet 1936. Everyone living atleast 200 feet away from the building witnessed the explosion. After fifteen minutes of the incident, the news was covered by all Western Union lines and telephone lines as well. Bewildered, all the parents at the Parent Teacher Meeting hurried to the building of the devastated school. Roughnecks from the oilfields of Eastern Texas carrying their equipment of high-duty and residents of the community came rushing by. Texas Rangers as well as the highway patrol was sent for the rescue and assistance of the injured, wounded people by Governor James Allred in an hour of the incident. (Hilliard,2012) Medical supplies and doctors were called upon from nearby Scottish Rite Hospital for Disabled Children and Baylor Hospital from Dallas and from Wichita Falls, and Nacogdoches as well. Furthermore, United Army Air Corps were brought in from Barksdale Field which is located in Shreveport, Louisiana. All these helpers were aided by the deputy sheriffs from Henderson, Overton, and Kilgore. They were also assisted by the Boy Scouts, the Salvation Army, the American Legion, the American Red Cross, and also volunteers joined from Gulf Pipe Line, Humble Oil, the International-Great Northern Railroad and Sinclair. The debris was searched by workers who began looking for the sufferers. The rescue operation was continued till the night fall and for convenience, floodlights were put up in there. Soon after the incident, almost after seventeen hours all the wounded people as well the wreckage was taken to some other place. Dedication ceremonies were cancelled at the Mother Francis Hospital to help the wounded. Twenty five embalmers were sent in by the Directors of Texas Funeral.(Hilliard,2012) Almost 298 people died in the incident out of the staff of forty teachers and 500 student body. Out of the 202 people left, there were about 130 students who did not receive fatal injury. Some student and teachers were in desperate
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