Terrible Scene at a Fancy Festival.
The correspondent of a Home paper writes :—“ Friday, 18th February, will be remembered by me as long as I live. I should premise by saying that it is the custom of the artists in Munich to hold annually a feste, called the 1 Kuntstler kneipe.’ On the occasion of this festival no ladies are admitted, and the artists go in every conceivable costume, from that of the Spanish grandee to that of the most hideous-looking beggar. The students belonging to the several schools give various entertainments, and as there is much drink to be Had, and' much drank, I need not say that it is a very lively affair. At about 12 p.m., just as the feste was at its height, I (who was in the American ‘Block hut') beard shouts of ‘Fire f and shrieks for help. There was a.small opening into the street from our hut, and a crowd of shrieking people came surging in. We, however, joined together and forced them out into the 7 great hall, where a terrible scene corP fronted us. Amid a mass of panicstricken people, rushing in all directions, and wildly dashing through the crowd, were five or six students completely enveloped in flames. One of the most terribly burnt (Herr Kriest, who has since died) came shrieking along, one mass of flame, and endeavored to get into our hut. We succeeded in throwing him down just at the door, and, after pouring all the water we had upon him, threw a blanket over him, and at last extinguished the flames. He was so terribly burnt as to be unrecognisable. As I assisted to get him into a sitting posture his flesh seemed to peel off in my hand. We gave him some whisky, which revived him a little, _ and he was then carried to * the hospital. Altogether 17 persons were burnt, 12 of whom most seriously injured, were at once taken to the hospital. Up to the present (Sunday, 3 p.m.) eight are dead, one is expected to die, and there are three whose recovery is doubtful. ' What made it still more terrible is that most of those burnt were dressed in the Esquimaux costume made of flax, and fastened to a skin-tight canvas covered with a sort of pitch, which melted with the flames and stuck the tighter to them. It was horrible to see their frantic efforts to rid themselves of their fiery robes, but, of course, without success. A curious incident is that the Esquimaux had painted on their hut words to the following Will be seen to-night, such a sight as has never been seen before ! ’ and ‘ls not the devil painted on the.wall?’ The origin of the fire was in the Esquimaux hut, where three of the students were sitting together in a small cave at the back, selling herrings, One of them reached out to get\ some moneys and put his arm in the flame of a candle that was standirig on a barrel. His coat of flax was at once in-flames. The cave being so small, > bis Companions could not escape, arid so were at once on fire also. They rushed madly, through the hall, and! in that manner communicated the flantes to the others. The greatest praise uj& due to Herr Neidhard (music condjtfttor), who, as the band were rushing M-way, ordered them to remain, and nhiy a selection from ‘ Carmen,’ whipPS-'re-storing the confidence of _ stricken people, prevented a catastrophe, the extent of which is dreadful to contemplate. The hall was crowded to such an extent that it was scarcely . possible for it to have held more, andas most of the people knew but of one exit, the loss of life, had the panic continued, must have been great.”
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Ashburton Guardian, Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 336, 5 May 1881
Terrible Scene at a Fancy Festival. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 336, 5 May 1881
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