The Worst Human Stampedes

1942 Cocoanut Grove Fire

1942 Cocoanut Grove Fire is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Worst Human Stampedes

Photo: Boston Public Library/Flickr
An overcrowded nightclub stuffed full of flammable decoration went up in flames in November 1942, causing nearly 500 deaths from burns, suffocation, and trampling. The club was packed full of servicemen on leave, holiday revelers, and football fans in town for the Boston College game. The exact cause of the fire is still unknown, but the South Seas themed decor, made mostly of cloth and paper, quickly lit up. The crowd was overwhelmed by the size of the fire and panicked, crushing toward the front entrance – a single revolving door that quickly became blocked by corpses. Other exits were locked or boarded up by the club’s cheapskate owner – who was arrested and sent to prison.

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