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New York City, Greenwich Village, March 25, 1911. Just before closing time, a fire breaks out on the eighth floor of the Asch Building in the Triangle Waist Factory. Triangle occupies the 8th, 9th, and 10th floors. The Asch Building is relatively new, modern, fireproof. There are no sprinklers, because they are not required. The fire spreads ferociously: the factory is full of fabric, scraps, lint, paper, barrels of machine oil . At least one of the two exit doors on each floor may have been locked. The water hoses have never been connected to the standpipes; the fire escape is rotten and collapses when desperate people try to use it. The Fire Department responds quickly, but their ladders extend only to the 6th floor. In 18 minutes, 146 people have died, most of them young immigrant women, Jews and Italian Catholics. 62 terrified people have lept from the windows to the sidewalk 100 feet below, at the feet of horrifed witnesses and helpless firemen and police. The fire arouses outrage throughout New York and spurs immediate and extensive legislative reform measures---safety laws that will become models for states across the country.
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