|Circus Ferroni Fire
January 13, 1883
A fire broke out on January 13, 1883, during an evening performance of Circus Ferroni in Berditscheff, Russian Poland. (This was in the period after the Napoleonic wars, when part of Poland was annexed by Russia.) A stableman working in the stable adjoining the circus was smoking a cigarette while lying on straw, and the straw ignited. A fellow laborer ran for a pail of water. He left a door open, which created a strong draft that fed the flames. The circus building was made of double wooden walls with straw filling the space between the boards to act as insulation from the cold. The circus building caught fire and, inside of twenty minutes, the whole circus was in flames. Owing to the extreme cold weather, water was scarce. A fire engine was delayed in getting to the fire because while en route it broke through some ice. Official figures state that 268 people were burned to death, 80 were mortally injured, 100 were missing. (other reports state that 430 died) Many children were crushed and suffocated in the jam of people. Both stable laborers who caused the fire died in the fire. 27 horses and 11 trained dogs also died in the fire.