Firefighting

A Look Back at OK’s Babb’s Switch Fire

From www.enidnews.com:

By Cass Rains

Ninety years ago today, a fire in a schoolhouse during a Christmas pageant in southwestern Oklahoma killed 36 people and injured dozens more.

Though the fire took a relatively small number of lives compared to other historic conflagrations, the Babb’s Switch fire is known for the large number of poor safety conditions that contributed to the disaster.

Thirty-six people were killed, dozens more were injured, and one person was declared missing—and never found—in the fire at Babb’s Switch School, which was located a few miles south of Hobart. The fire killed entire families that had gathered to celebrate Christmas at the school.

Enid Fire Department Fire Marshal Ken Helms said, “Everything that could go wrong did.”

A Christmas program at the school drew some 200 people to the one-room schoolhouse. The Christmas tree was decorated with candles, and the floors recently had been repainted using a turpentine thinner in expectation of the night’s guests.

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