Feb. 14, 1923 Minden Webster Parish Louisiana, USA
The Bossier Banner Thursday, February 15, 1923 Page 1
FOUR DEAD FROM BURNS.
Keenest regret is felt here in Benton because of a tragedy of the week occurring in Minden. Tuesday night eight young ladies of that place who were taking part in a Mardi Gras play, and a little girl of eight years who at the time was behind the scenery on the stage, were severely burned and four of them have since died. The dead are Miss Dorothy Cheshire, a daughter of Mrs. Dolly Cheshire, a former resident of North Bossier, Miss Eugenie Burt, Miss Mabel Hickman, ranging in age from sixteen to seventeen years in age, and the little girl who was mentioned above, Eva Eleanor Lowe, whose clothes were ignited as the others ran by her. The names of the others burned are: Miss Ruth Reagan, Miss Vashti Bullock, Miss Vallye Watson, Miss Alma Sullivan and Miss Eloise Hough, aged from fifteen to seventeen years.
The fire had its origin when the dress of Miss Alma Sullivan caught fire from a sparkler which was being used to enhance the effect of a snow scene in the culminating act of a snow scene of a Mardi Gras play which was staged under the auspices of civic organizations of Minden at the auditoriumof the city's high school building. The other members of the cast rushed to the assistance of their companion and were also burned. The young ladies, dresses in flames, ran into the street from a stage exit. Their dresses were of flimsy material bearing flecks of cotton to immitation of snow and the wind fanned the fire flames as they ran. They were finally overtaken by young men from the audience who had gone to their rescue. All of them, however, were badly burned and it is expected that deaths other than those above reported will soon follow.
The dailies had more of an in depth report covering the tragedy:
The Monroe News-Star. February 14, 1923 Page 1
"SPARKLER" IGNITES GIRL'S DRESS, MANY BURNED, ONE IS DEAD.
Mardi Gras Celebration at Minden Results in Burning of Several Girls.
CONDUCTOR'S DAUGHTER DIES FROM HER BURNS.
By Associated Press.
Minden, La., Feb. 14. - The death toll resulting from the fire which turned a Mardi Gras celebration at Minden last night from an affair of gay festivities to a shocking tragedy was increased this afternoon when the second fatality occurred with the death of Miss Dorothy Cheshire, daughter of Mrs. Bessie [sic] Cheshire.
When her companions fled in a panic with their costumes ignited, Miss Cheshire, fainting, fell to the floor of the school stage. It was thought this would save her life, as there was no wind to fan the flames, which were soon extinguished, but the burns she sustained proved fatal.
Two other girls burned in the accident are reported in very serious conditions, Misses Eugenia Burt and Alma Sullivan, whose costume was first to catch fire from the sparkler, from which the dresses of the other girls in the Mardi Gras play became ignited when they attempted to put out the fire.
By Associated Press.
Minden, La., Feb. 14. - Miss Mabel Hickman, aged 15, daughter of J. B. Hickman, conductor of the Louisiana and Arkansas railroad, is dead from burns received last night when her costume of flimsy material was ignited during a Mardi Gras celebration in the auditorium of the Minden high school. Eight other school girls were also severely burned, two of them sustaining serious injuries from which they may died, namely, Miss Alma Sullivan, daughter of Mrs. Betty Sullivan, and Miss Eugenia Burt, daughter of R. E. Burt, Louisiana and Arkansas railroad agent.
They were burned from their knees to their necks. The other girls who sustained burns are: Miss Dorothy Cheshire, Eloise Hough, Valerie Watson, Vashtie Bullock, Ruth Reagan and Eva Eleanor Lowe.
No one in the audience was injured although much excitement prevailed. The building was practically undamaged.
ORIGIN OF FIRE.
The fire originated from a "sparkler" just before time for the girls to appear on the stage in costumes trimmed with lint cotton and bearing sparklers in the scene, to have been the climax of the play. The cotton on Miss Alma Sullivan's dress accidentally caught fire as the sparklers were lighted. Other girls rushed to her assistance and in the confusion some of their costumes were ignited. They rushed to an exit, Miss Cheshire fainted and could not run, which it is believed prevented her from being seriously burned. [Unfortunately, Dorothy was the first to succumb]
Miss Hickman ran about two blocks in the street, the wind fanning the flames in her clothes, until overtaken by two young men, who carried her home, but found none of the family there. They administered as best they could until a doctor arrived about an hour later. She died this morning.
The entertainment was under the auspices of the Civic club and was in observance of the annual Mardi Gras celebration.
Six nurses from Shreveport came to Minden this morning in response to the call for aid last night.
Thursday, February 15, 1923 Page 5
Girl Victims Buried.
By Associated Press.
Minden, Feb. 15. - Three of the four girl victims of Minden's Mardi Gras night disaster fire were buried here this afternoon and arrangements for the fourth are held in abeyance pending the arrival of relatives. Mabel Hickman, first of the girls to die was buried at 2:30 o'clock. Dorothy Cheshire was buried at 3:30 o'clock and the funeral of Eva Eleanor Lowe was held at 4:15 o'clock. Eugenia Burt will be buried Friday.
Business in Minden was suspended throughout the entire day, school mates of the dead girls served as pall bearers. Doctors hold out little hopes for the recovery of Alma Sullivan, the girl whose costume was the first to catch fire from the sparkler she held in her hand. Vallerie Watson, Eloise Hough, Ruth Reagan and Vashti Bullock probably will recover.