We take this opportunity to remind all non-profit organizations, merchants, and school personnel of their responsibility to ensure the safety of their patrons, students, parents and staff during Halloween activities. On October 27, 1973 at the Washington-Reid Elementary School in this County, a tragic event took place. Members of the school P.T.A. were applying the finishing touches to a haunted house they had constructed in a classroom. Construction consisted of painted fabric wall panels forming a maze, craft paper coverings, and papier-mâché decorations. The “haunted house” was lit with black lights and contained a sound system.
At 1:40 p.m. on that Saturday afternoon, a mere 20 minutes or so before the haunted house was to be opened to the public; a small fire was noticed in one of the paper hangings. Three men attempted to battle the almost instantaneous inferno that ensued. Unfortunately, one man received third degree burns to 85 percent of his body which resulted in his death several hours later. Subsequent investigation revealed that a black light too close to the paper had ignited it, resulting in the fatal fire. Two classrooms were completely destroyed and a third was damaged extensively. A tragic story – all the more so because it might never have happened had a few simple precautions been observed.
To avoid a similar reoccurrence, please observe the following precautions and regulations in preparing your haunted house or carnival.