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Press Release - Anniversary of Exeters Theatre Royal fire
Posted on 05/09/2017

Over the past 12 months Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service has attended some notable fires around the city of Exeter, including the Cathedral Yard, Riverside Leisure Centre, and Devon Waste recycling but 130 years ago today there occurred a fire that still remains responsible for the largest loss of life due to a property fire in the UK to date.

On the evening of the 5 September 1887, an audience of more than 800 was present for the opening night of 'Romany Rye’ at the Theatre Royal in Exeter. But during the fourth Act a fire started on stage.

Smoke and darkness quickly filled the theatre and it developed into one of the worst fire disasters of 19th century Britain. 

There were 186 victims, many from the upper gallery who could not escape because of poorly designed exits - many victims were suffocated in the crush. Most were buried in a mass grave in Higher Cemetery and a memorial cross placed over the spot.

Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service would like to take the anniversary of this tragic fire to remind people of the need to be fire safe in the home and to prevent them from being the next victim of fire.

Follow these simple steps and reduce the risk:

1  Fit a working smoke alarm and ensure it is tested regularly.
Take care when cooking and never leave cooking food unattended
Plan and practise your escape route
Make a bedtime check
Don't overload sockets
Put cigarettes right out
Use candles carefully
Have your chimney swept regularly

The Service offers free home fire safety checks. The check takes no longer than five minutes after which you may be offered a home fire safety visit.

The visit takes less than 30 minutes, we provide advice and fit a free smoke detector if required.

You are important to us. If you would like a free home fire safety check please call 0800 05 02 999.

Make sure you are not the next victim of fire.


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