Deadly Christmas Decorations
It seems almost incredible in these days of universal Fire Prevention preachment that in a large Indiana city the principal of a public school, co-operating with her corps of teachers, should arrange a Christmas entertainment with a miniature stage setting of cedar-tree branches and a representation of a cottage, the roof of which was covered with cotton as well as the stage floor, intended, of course, to represent snow. Yet this is just what occurred, and furthermore the children were allowed to have in their possession lighted candles in the midst of these terribly inflammable surroundings. It need hardly be added that the result was a flare-up of the cotton and cedar branches, and only the Good Providence who watches over the young and helpless saved the children of this school from a terrible death by burning. The event was a Christmas celebration in this school, and some 125 children were being held in a room on the second floor of the building until the preparations were completed to allow their entrance to witness the entertainment which was to be held on the third floor. While the teachers were busy preparing the final touches on the decorations one of the children, in trying to make a candle stand up, tipped it over to allow the melted tallow to fall on the floor in order to make a base for the candle and in doing this, as might naturally be supposed, some of the surrounding cotton took fire. It took only a moment for the cedar limbs to ignite and a matter of seconds before the whole stage was ablaze. The fire department of the city arrived in answer to an alarm and extinguished the fire with little damage and no loss of life. The astonishing part of this happening was the fact that teachers in public schools, in spite of all warnings that have been given by fire marshals, fire chiefs and the daily press, could have failed to have heard or seen such warnings, for it would seem impossible that, having knowledge of the perils of using such inflammable materials, a principal of a school would allow their employment as Christmas decorations. An incident of this kind emphasizes the great necessity of intensive Fire Prevention work by fire marshals, chiefs and fire prevention inspectors in all schools, especially during the Christmastide celebrations. It is to be hoped that this case was an isolated one, and that the majority of the principals and teachers of our public schools are awake to the dangers that lie in inflammable Christmas decorations, especially as there are plenty of materials formed of asbestos and other non-inflammable substances which are equally good as substitutes for decorative purposes.