Jim Kershner’s This Day in History
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From our archives, 100 years ago
Disaster was barely averted when panicked children in the Spokane Theater rushed for the exits after a child in the back shouted, “Fire!”
There was no fire; the child had merely heard the clanging bells of a Spokane fire engine racing past the theater on another call.
Hundreds of children were in the Spokane Theater for a performance by Buster Brown (actually, an adult impersonating that comic strip character) and his dog Tige.
When the child yelled fire, “a crowd of newsboys in the rear of the house jumped up” and headed for the exits.
A stampede was averted by the theater’s ushers, who ordered everyone back into their seats, where they stayed for the remainder of the show.
The theater manager blamed the crisis, in part, on the show itself. He said “it dragged” and caused the children to be restless.
Also on this date
1977: More than 130 hostages held in Washington, D.C., by Hanafi Muslims were freed after ambassadors from three Islamic nations joined the negotiations. … 2004: Ten bombs exploded across the commuter rail network in Madrid, Spain, killing 191 people and wounding more than 2,000.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.