Eyewitness at the Triangle
By William G. Shepherd

the Milwaukee Journal, March 27, 1911.

I was walking through Washington Square when a puff of smoke issuing from the factory building caught my eye. I reached the building before the alarm was turned in. I saw every feature of the tragedy visible from outside the building. I learned a new sound--a more horrible sound than description can picture. It was the thud of a speeding, living body on a stone sidewalk.

Thud--dead, thud--dead, thud--dead, thud--dead. Sixty-two thud--deads. I call them that, because the sound and the thought of death came to me each time, at the same instant. There was plenty of chance to watch them as they came down. The height was eighty feet.

The first ten thud--deads shocked me. I looked up--saw that there were scores of girls at the windows. The flames from the floor below were beating in their faces. Somehow I knew that they, too, must come down, and something within me--something that I didn't know was there--steeled me.

I even watched one girl falling. Waving her arms, trying to keep her body upright until the very instant she struck the sidewalk, she was trying to balance herself. Then came the thud--then a silent, unmoving pile of clothing and twisted, broken limbs.

As I reached the scene of the fire, a cloud of smoke hung over the building. . . . I looked up to the seventh floor. There was a living picture in each window--four screaming heads of girls waving their arms.

"Call the firemen," they screamed--scores of them. "Get a ladder," cried others. They were all as alive and whole and sound as were we who stood on the sidewalk. I couldn't help thinking of that. We cried to them not to jump. We heard the siren of a fire engine in the distance. The other sirens sounded from several directions.

"Here they come," we yelled. "Don't jump; stay there."

One girl climbed onto the window sash. Those behind her tried to hold her back. Then she dropped into space. I didn't notice whether those above watched her drop because I had turned away. Then came that first thud. I looked up, another girl was climbing onto the window sill; others were crowding behind her. She dropped. I watched her fall, and again the dreadful sound. Two windows away two girls were climbing onto the sill; they were fighting each other and crowding for air. Behind them I saw many screaming heads. They fell almost together, but I heard two distinct thuds. Then the flames burst out through the windows on the floor below them, and curled up into their faces.

The firemen began to raise a ladder. Others took out a life net and, while they were rushing to the sidewalk with it, two more girls shot down. The firemen held it under them; the bodies broke it; the grotesque simile of a dog jumping through a hoop struck me. Before they could move the net another girl's body flashed through it. The thuds were just as loud, it seemed, as if there had been no net there. It seemed to me that the thuds were so loud that they might have been heard all over the city.

I had counted ten. Then my dulled senses began to work automatically. I noticed things that it had not occurred to me before to notice. Little details that the first shock had blinded me to. I looked up to see whether those above watched those who fell. I noticed that they did; they watched them every inch of the way down and probably heard the roaring thuds that we heard.

As I looked up I saw a love affair in the midst of all the horror. A young man helped a girl to the window sill. Then he held her out, deliberately away from the building and let her drop. He seemed cool and calculating. He held out a second girl the same way and let her drop. Then he held out a third girl who did not resist. I noticed that. They were as unresisting as if her were helping them onto a streetcar instead of into eternity. Undoubtedly he saw that a terrible death awaited them in the flames, and his was only a terrible chivalry.

Then came the love amid the flames. He brought another girl to the window. Those of us who were looking saw her put her arms about him and kiss him. Then he held her out into space and dropped her. But quick as a flash he was on the window sill himself. His coat fluttered upward--the air filled his trouser legs. I could see that he wore tan shoes and hose. His hat remained on his head.

Thud--dead, thud--dead--together they went into eternity. I saw his face before they covered it. You could see in it that he was a real man. He had done his best.

We found out later that, in the room in which he stood, many girls were being burned to death by the flames and were screaming in an inferno of flame and heat. He chose the easiest way and was brave enough to even help the girl he loved to a quicker death, after she had given him a goodbye kiss. He leaped with an energy as if to arrive first in that mysterious land of eternity, but her thud--dead came first.

The firemen raised the longest ladder. It reached only to the sixth floor. I saw the last girl jump at it and miss it. And then the faces disappeared from the window. But now the crowd was enormous, though all this had occurred in less than seven minutes, the start of the fire and the thuds and deaths.

I heard screams around the corner and hurried there. What I had seen before was not so terrible as what had followed. Up in the ninth floor girls were burning to death before our very eyes. They were jammed in the windows. No one was lucky enough to be able to jump, it seemed. But, one by one, the jams broke. Down came the bodies in a shower, burning, smoking--flaming bodies, with disheveled hair trailing upward. They had fought each other to die by jumping instead of by fire.

The whole, sound, unharmed girls who had jumped on the other side of the building had tried to fall feet down. But these fire torches, suffering ones, fell inertly, only intent that death should come to them on the sidewalk instead of in the furnace behind them.

On the sidewalk lay heaps of broken bodies. A policeman later went about with tags, which he fastened with wires to the wrists of the dead girls, numbering each with a lead pencil, and I saw him fasten tag no. 54 to the wrist of a girl who wore an engagement ring. A fireman who came downstairs from the building told me that there were at least fifty bodies in the big room on the seventh floor. Another fireman told me that more girls had jumped down an air shaft in the rear of the building. I went back there, into the narrow court, and saw a heap of dead girls. . . .

The floods of water from the firemen's hose that ran into the gutter were actually stained red with blood. I looked upon the heap of dead bodies and I remembered these girls were the shirtwaist makers. I remembered their great strike of last year in which these same girls had demanded more sanitary conditions and more safety precautions in the shops. These dead bodies were the answer.

One of the Snapple Elementals drinks. It's red and kind of has an indescribable but really good juice taste to it. It's designed to give you energy, and it does. It has a lot of ginseng in it.

Also the name of a cocoa-based native Mac OS X freeform third-party instant messaging client. As of now it can talk to AOL Instant Messenger, ICQ, MSN, IRC (badly), Jabber (badly), and Yahoo Chat. It is somewhat buggy (though improving) and shows definite signs of its status as what is, technically as of now, beta, but even though it is simply a half-assed thrown-together unfinished client by a couple of random people with no ties to anything, it is infinitely better than any AOL-sponsored IM client i have ever used, in many ways. This is a testament to either the amazing versatility of Cocoa, or to how much AOL Instant Messenger sucks.

I secretly suspect the name is a pun on "AIM/Fire", but i really hope it isn't, because that would be stupid. Fire has a cool icon, although unlike its namesake it does not contain ginseng.

The most important thing about Fire, however, is that it is GPLed, which is a godsend for those of us who are sick of inflexible IM clients we don't have direct control over. (As proof of how good this is, Fire has spawned an even more excellent AIM client called Adium, which took the networking code for Fire and recreated the interface to be more streamlined.) Now, if only it supported File Transfers..

As with all 3rdparty/OSS AIM clients, Fire uses TOC.

as an astrological term, fire is one of the elements which are associated with a sign of the zodiac.

fire signs are most likely to react without thinking first. their reactions tend to be physical, immediate, and without thought to the consequences. think first, ask questions later. fire signs tend to be courageous and brave.

the elements: fire, earth, air, water
Charmingly naive British term for a house's heater, regardless of the source or technique of generating the heat.

"Oooh, come in out of the cold and stand next to the fire.." she said, directing her caller towards the electric heater.

The X-files

Episode: 1X11
First aired:12/17/93
Written by:Chris Carter
Directed by:Larry Shaw

Mulder's old girlfriend, Phoebe Green, asks Mulder and Scully for help in protecting a British lord, Sir Malcolm, after several members of Parliament were killed by fire.

Mulder admits his fear of fire but thinks about the case and decides the assassin may be a pyrokinetic -- someone who can control and conduct fire.

The assassin kills the Sir Malcolm's estate caretaker, proceeds to burn down a bar (after igniting his own arm) and takes the place of the family chauffeur and drives them to a dinner.

Scully investigates the killer while Mulder and Green begin to "rekindle their romance." They are interrupted by Scully at the dinner who realizes that the floor where the family's children are staying is on fire. The killer saves the children therefore earning the family's trust.

Scully learns that the killer, Cecil L'ively, worked for the previous two victims and gets conformation from the bar owner.
Mulder, Scully, and Green go to the house finding it on fire. Mulder saves the children while Scully confronts the killer, who explodes is flames and collapses.

In an overvoice, Scully tells us that L'ively should recover from his burns in a month and the authorities are unsure on how to prosecute him.

This is the episode with the famous black boxers.

Important Quotes:
Mulder takes a tape out of its case and looks at it
Scully -- " What do you think it is?"
Mulder -- "Ten-to-one, you can't dance to it."

Mulder --" There's something else I haven't told you about myself, Scully. I hate fire. Hate it. Scared to death of it."

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Back to The X-files: Season 1

As Webster 1913 says below, the word "fire" derives from the same root as German "feuer". The French word for "fire" is "feu", but Ferdinand de Saussure notes in his Cours de Linguistique Générale that there is no common origin with the German word although they look very close. The French "feu" derives from the Latin "focus".

This could be a mere coincidence. After all, there are many words in the language, and few different sounds, owing to double articulation.

So, is this is a case of cross-cultural sound symbolism? Do all the cultures in the world associate the sound "f" with the crackling and humming flames in our parents' chimney?

(thanks Shro0m)

KA hi (fire)

ASCII Art Representation:

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Character Etymology:

A stylized deriviative pictograph of flames and sparks.

A listing of all on-yomi and kun-yomi readings:

on-yomi: KA
kun-yomi: hi -bi ho-

Nanori Readings:

Nanori: (none)

English Definitions:

  1. KA: fire, Tuesday.
  2. hi: fire, flame, or blaze.
  3. (toro)bi: low fire.
  4. hi: fire.

Unicode Encoded Version:

Unicode Encoded Compound Examples:

火炎 (kaen): flames, blazes.
火曜日 (kayoobi): Tuesday.
火山 (kazan): Volcano.
火花 (hibana): Spark(s).
火気厳禁 (kaki-genkin): Inflammablekeep out!

  Previous: below  |  Japanese Kanji  |  Next: flower

"A rapid, persistent chemical reaction that releases heat and light, especially the exothermic combination of a combustible substance with oxygen."
--The American Heritage Dictionary, 2nd College Edition

Fire is a chemical process which requires Oxygen, heat and fuel to occur. The omission of any of these three elements will cause the reaction to terminate (or not to begin in the first place). Before I go any further - a chemical process is the process whereby the molecules of a given substance rearrange themselves. As a result of this, energy is either released or absorbed.

The Process that causes fire is called Oxidation. When you strike a match the Oxygen atoms combine with Hydrogen and Carbon to form Water and Carbon dioxide. The equation for this reaction is this:

2H2 + O2 -> 2H2O

Note:If the term Oxidation sounds familiar - it's the same process which causes rust. In the case of Iron rusting the reaction is VERY slow and the heat energy released is therefore VERY low.

The above equation uses the relatively simple example of a burning match. Different materials (fuels) have different Oxidation rates, for example paper and wood burn very quickly (the oxidation rate is very high). The combustion occurs at the point where the generated heat cannot be released faster than it is being created. Each type of fuel also has a different ignition temperature. This is the threshold temperature at which the fuel can rapidly unite with oxygen. Even with a seemingly simple fuel such as methane (CH4), more than 100 individual chemical reactions take place.

If the fuel/oxygen ratio is too high there will not be enough oxygen to allow the fuel to fully oxidize. The results of this can include the formation of carbon monoxide (CO) instead of co2 and a sooty flame. This can be observed as black smoke coming from a car with a too rich mixture (when the mixture is correct all of the fuel is being oxidized and the exhaust is clear).

Flame is the visual signature we can see as the result of fire. For a long time Flame was considered to be one of the elemental components of matter, along with Earth, Air and Water. This is not true. Flame is essentially just a (very) hot gas composed of Oxygen, Nitrogen, Carbon dioxide and water vapour (created by Oxidation - see above).

The reason we see the flame is that some of the heat energy is absorbed by the electrons in the gas. The electrons radiate this energy as light. The common colours for flame (highest temperature to lowest) are: Blue, Yellow, Orange and Red. Below this point the radiation falls into the Infrared - so we can't see it but can still feel it as radiant heat. This low radiation actually comes from the vibration of the molecules rather than the electrons themselves (which have returned totheir lowest energy state).

Flame also has a distinctive shape which you can see when you light a match or candle. This shape is formed by convection currents around the flame which are formed thus:

  1. Oxydiation causes the air around the flame to heat up, becoming lighter than the surrounding air.
  2. The heated air moves upwards (you know that hot air rises right?).
  3. The moving air stretches the flame vertically, resulting in the familiar teardrop-like shape we all know.
Obviously the hotter the fire is the higher the flames will reach as the air is rising more rapidly and takes longer to cool back to ambient temperature.


Note: This information is the result of my research only. If anyone with actual chemistry experience has any corrections/additions please /msg me and I will include them in the w/u. Thanks.

Fire (?), n. [OE. fir, fyr, fur AS. fr; akin to D. vuur, OS. & OHG. fiur, G. feuer, Icel. fri, frr, Gr. , and perh. to L. purus pure, E. pure Cf. Empyrean, Pyre.]


The evolution of light and heat in the combustion of bodies; combustion; state of ignition.

The form of fire exhibited in the combustion of gases in an ascending stream or current is called flame. Anciently, fire, air, earth, and water were regarded as the four elements of which all things are composed.


Fuel in a state of combustion, as on a hearth, or in stove or a furnace.


The burning of a house or town; a conflagration.


Anything which destroys or affects like fire.


Ardor of passion, whether love or hate; excessive warmth; consumingviolence of temper.

he had fire in his temper.Atterbury.


Liveliness of imagination or fancy; intellectual and moral enthusiasm; capacity for ardor and zeal.

And bless their critic with a poet's fire.Pope.


Splendor; brilliancy; luster; hence, a star.

Stars, hide your fires.Shak.

As in a zodiac

representing the heavenly fires. Milton.


Torture by burning; severe trial or affliction.


The discharge of firearms; firing; as, the troops were exposed to a heavy fire.

Blue fire, Red fire, Green fire Pyrotech., compositions of various combustible substances, as sulphur, niter, lampblack, etc., the flames of which are colored by various metallic salts, as those of antimony, strontium, barium, etc. -- Fire alarm (a) A signal given on the breaking out of a fire. (b) An apparatus for giving such an alarm. -- Fire annihilator, a machine, device, or preparation to be kept at hand for extinguishing fire by smothering it with some incombustible vapor or gas, as carbonic acid. -- Fire balloon. (a) A balloon raised in the air by the buoyancy of air heated by a fire placed in the lower part<-- = hot-air balloon -->. (b) A balloon sent up at night with fireworks which ignite at a regulated height. Simmonds. -- Fire bar, a grate bar. -- Fire basket, a portable grate; a cresset. Knight. -- Fire beetle. Zool. See in the Vocabulary. -- Fire blast, a disease of plants which causes them to appear as if burnt by fire. -- Fire box, the chamber of a furnace, steam boiler, etc., for the fire. -- Fire brick, a refractory brick, capable of sustaining intense heat without fusion, usually made of fire clay or of siliceous material, with some cementing substance, and used for lining fire boxes, etc. -- Fire brigade, an organized body of men for extinguished fires. -- Fire bucket. See under Bucket. -- Fire bug, an incendiary; one who, from malice or through mania, persistently sets fire to property; a pyromaniac. [U.S.] -- Fire clay. See under Clay. -- Fire company, a company of men managing an engine in extinguishing fires. -- Fire cross. See Fiery cross. [Obs.] Milton. -- Fire damp. See under Damp. -- Fire dog. See Firedog, in the Vocabulary. -- Fire drill. (a) A series of evolutions performed by fireman for practice. (b) An apparatus for producing fire by friction, by rapidly twirling a wooden pin in a wooden socket; -- used by the Hindoos during all historic time, and by many savage peoples. -- Fire eater. (a) A juggler who pretends to eat fire. (b) A quarrelsome person who seeks affrays; a hotspur. [Colloq.] -- Fire engine, a portable forcing pump, usually on wheels, for throwing water to extinguish fire. -- Fire escape, a contrivance for facilitating escape from burning buildings. -- Fire gilding Fine Arts, a mode of gilding with an amalgam of gold and quicksilver, the latter metal being driven off afterward by heat. -- Fire gilt Fine Arts, gold laid on by the process of fire gilding. -- Fire insurance, the act or system of insuring against fire; also, a contract by which an insurance company undertakes, in consideration of the payment of a premium or small percentage -- usually made periodically -- to indemnify an owner of property from loss by fire during a specified period. -- Fire irons, utensils for a fireplace or grate, as tongs, poker, and shovel. -- Fire main, a pipe for water, to be used in putting out fire. -- Fire master (Mil), an artillery officer who formerly supervised the composition of fireworks. -- Fire office, an office at which to effect insurance against fire. -- Fire opal, a variety of opal giving firelike reflections. -- Fire ordeal, an ancient mode of trial, in which the test was the ability of the accused to handle or tread upon red-hot irons. Abbot. -- Fire pan, a pan for holding or conveying fire, especially the receptacle for the priming of a gun. -- Fire plug, a plug or hydrant for drawing water from the main pipes in a street, building, etc., for extinguishing fires. -- Fire policy, the writing or instrument expressing the contract of insurance against loss by fire. -- Fire pot. (a) Mil. A small earthen pot filled with combustibles, formerly used as a missile in war. (b) The cast iron vessel which holds the fuel or fire in a furnace. (c) A crucible. (d) A solderer's furnace. -- Fire raft, a raft laden with combustibles, used for setting fire to an enemy's ships. -- Fire roll, a peculiar beat of the drum to summon men to their quarters in case of fire. -- Fire setting Mining, the process of softening or cracking the working face of a lode, to facilitate excavation, by exposing it to the action of fire; -- now generally superseded by the use of explosives. Raymond. -- Fire ship, a vessel filled with combustibles, for setting fire to an enemy's ships. -- Fire shovel, a shovel for taking up coals of fire. -- Fire stink, the stench from decomposing iron pyrites, caused by the formation of sulphureted hydrogen. Raymond. -- Fire surface, the surfaces of a steam boiler which are exposed to the direct heat of the fuel and the products of combustion; heating surface. -- Fire swab, a swab saturated with water, for cooling a gun in action and clearing away particles of powder, etc. Farrow. -- Fire teaser, in England, the fireman of a steam emgine. -- Fire water, ardent spirits; -- so called by the American Indians. -- Fire worship, the worship of fire, which prevails chiefly in Persia, among the followers of Zoroaster, called Chebers, or Guebers, and among the Parsees of India. -- Greek fire. See under Greek. -- On fire, burning; hence, ardent; passionate; eager; zealous. -- Running fire, the rapid discharge of firearms in succession by a line of troops. -- St. Anthony's fire, erysipelas; -- an eruptive fever which St. Anthony was supposed to cure miraculously. Hoblyn. -- St. Elmo's fire. See under Saint Elmo. -- To set on fire, to inflame; to kindle. -- To take fire, to begin to burn; to fly into a passion.


© Webster 1913.

Fire (?), v. t. [imp. & p. p. Fired (?); p. pr. & vb. n. Fring.]


To set on fire; to kindle; as, to fire a house or chimney; to fire a pile.


To subject to intense heat; to bake; to burn in a kiln; as, to fire pottery.


To inflame; to irritate, as the passions; as, to fire the soul with anger, pride, or revenge.

Love had fired my mind. Dryden.


To animate; to give life or spirit to; as, to fire the genius of a young man.


To feed or serve the fire of; as, to fire a boiler.


To light up as if by fire; to illuminate.

[The sun] fires the proud tops of the eastern pines. Shak.


To cause to explode; as, to fire a torpedo; to disharge; as, to fire a musket or cannon; to fire cannon balls, rockets, etc.


To drive by fire.


Till my bad angel fire my good one out. Shak.

9. Far.

To cauterize.

To fire up, to light up the fires of, as of an engine.<-- figuratively, to start up any machine -->


© Webster 1913.

Fire, v. i.


To take fire; to be kindled; to kindle.


To be irritated or inflamed with passion.


To discharge artillery or firearms; as, they fired on the town.

To fire up, to grow irritated or angry. "He . . . fired up, and stood vigorously on his defense."



© Webster 1913.

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