Laurier Palace Theatre Fire
About 800 children were enjoying a Sunday matinée at the Laurier Palace Theater on St Catherine Street in Montreal.
Panic struck when at 2 p.m. a man yelled, "FIRE!!" 500 of the movie viewers sitting in the orchestra section were able to make their way out to the street. The children in the balcony section however were not so lucky. Of the two stairways leading to the safety of the ground floor, one was locked. In the space of two minutes smoke filled the air so thick that the children started choking and having trouble seeing. By the time firefighters arrived on the scene, they found children's bodies piled 8 deep in a stairway.
Seventy-six smoke-stained, blood-blotched bodies of boys and girls lie lifeless today on the slabs and floors of the morgue. About thirty other children, and a few adults, scarred, scratched, and burned, repose in cots at four city hospitals.. All are victims of a stampede that followed a minor outbreak of fire Sunday afternoon during a moving picture show at the Laurier Palace, 1683-5 St. Catherine Street East.
At evening the toll mounted. Hour after hour ambulances made still more journeys to the old gray building near the harbor, where mortuary chambers held scores of bodies ghastly in death.
On 9 January 1927 a small fire broke out in the Laurier Palace Theatre, Montréal. Firefighters arrived within 2 minutes and the blaze was extinguished in 10 minutes, but in the panic to escape an overcrowded building, many children piled up at the bases of stairways; 12 were crushed to death and 64 were asphyxiated.
The citizens of Montreal this morning were sorrowfully surveying the havoc wrought yesterday afternoon, when, within a few brief minutes the lives of seventy-six children were snuffed out and twenty-four other persons were more or less seriously injured as the result of panic in the Laurier Palace moving picture theatre which followed an alarm of fire. The little victims whose ages ranged from five years to sixteen or seventeen were for the most part suffocated by smoke or trampled to death under the feet of the throng which jammed the exits in the wild rush to safety.
The tragedy is one of the most poignant that has ever occurred in this city and is the greatest moving picture catastrophe that has happened in this country. In several cases more than one member of the same family was killed.