Those who escaped unscathed or
only slightly injured from the awful harvest of
death in the Iroquois yesterday afternoon will carry
the recollection of those few moments to the last
day of their lives. Less terrible only than the fate
of those around them were the experiences of the
women, children and men who struggled from the arms
of death into the streets and safety.
Miss Charlotte E. Plamondon, the
daughter of C. A. Plamondon of the Chicago Beach
hotel, was one of a theater party at the theater.
Last night she told a vivid story of her escape.
Miss Plamondon was one of those
in the party taken to the playhouse by Mrs. Rollin
A. Keyes of Evanston, the entertainment being for
her daughter, Miss Catherine Keyes. All of those in
the party had narrow escapes in the rush from the
theater. For some time it was believed that some had
been killed, but eventually all were accounted for."
"The first we knew of the fire,"
said Miss Plamondon, "was when we saw a tongue of
fire which crept slowly along the red velvet
curtain. As the fire followed the velvet curtain at
the top of the state I could see little girls and
boys in the audience point to it as if it were a
part of the play.
"The first person to request the
audience to remain in their seats was one of the
stage hands, who appeared before the footlights in
his jumper and overalls.
"Now, keep your seats; there is
no danger," he said.
"Then Eddie Foy hurried out and
commanded the people to remain calm. The players on
the stage maintained remarkable presence of mind.
"Up in the balcony I could see
people crowding forward to obtain a better view.
Again, the audience arose as if to flee. It was then
that Mr. Foy rushed on to the stage again and waved
his arms for the people to be seated.
"But just then the shrill cry of
some woman caused the women and children to rise to
their feet, filled with a sudden and uncontrollable
terror. 'Fire,' I heard the woman exclaim, and in
another instant the rush for the door began.
"The roar of hundreds in the
balcony was soon deadened by the cries for aid from
those who were hemmed in by the struggling mass.
"On the stage the chorus girls,
who had aroused admiration because of their bravery,
turned to flee. Many were overcome before they could
take a step. They fell to the floor and I saw the
actors and the stage hands carry them away.
"By this time the scenery was a
mass of flames. Miss Elsie Elmore was the first to
leave our box. The upholstering on the railing was
then on fire and the fragments of the burning
curtain fell about us. We had to keep brushing them
off to prevent our clothing from catching fire.
"There were few men in the
audience but I saw several of them pulling and
pushing women and children aside as they fought like
maniacs to reach the exits. Little children fell
beneath the feet of the adults. In the balcony the
scene was more heartrending. There was one big black
crush of human beings there. Many fell before they
had left the first six rows of seats. The exits to
the fire escapes were soon choked.
"The stage was a sheet of flame
when we jumped over the railing of our box to the
aisle. What followed I cannot clearly remember. In
some way I reached the main entrance. Men were
kicking against the doors and shattering the glass
and panels in their attempt to make a larger exit. I
must have been walking over prostrate bodies. It
seemed as if my feet scarcely touched anything. I
was just carried along."