October 30, 1909
Three girls seriously burned and a third slightly is the result of the overturning of a jack o'lantern last night during a Halloween celebration at the academy of the Sisters of Loretto, West Prospect and Thirty-ninth street, which set the costumes of the girls on fire.
The most seriously burned are:
Mimie Tiernan, 3525 Broadway.
Mary Maley, 1200 West Fortieth.
Virginia Owen, 3633 Prospect.
Ruth Mahoney, a niece of Alderman C. J. Conin.
It was stated early this morning that three of the girls were possibly fatally burned. There are little hopes of Misses Owen and Tiernan recovering. Miss Maley is reported to be in danger, though not as seriously burned as the other two. All the victims were conscious and suffering greatly. All but Miss Mahoney were burned over their bodies, and on the arms and legs.
The girls were giving a Hallowe'en entertainment in the corridor on the first floor. The stage at the end of the hall was decorated with jack o'lanterns and bunting.
They planned a "North Pole" entertainment, and were dressed as Esquimaux. They wore white trousers, covered with cotton to represent snow. Their waists also were covered with cotton. No boys had been invited.
It was 8:20 o'clock when Maley walked across the stage. She was laughing gaily and chatting with a crowd of girls walking at her side. They were all talking of the beautiful decorations and the novel decorations.
Miss Maley stumbled on a jack o'lantern. From the candle the cotton on her Esquimaux dress was ignited. The flame spread over her entire body. Misses Teirnan, Owen and Mahoney, walking at her side, rushed to their friend's help. There were screams and cries for help. Some of the girls fainted, others grew hysterical.
The flames spread from Miss Maley's costume to the three girls who had rushed to her aid. In a moment the four were a mass of flames. The clothing was burned entirely from Miss Maley's body. The cotton burned as if it were saturated in oil. The three girls, who came to her assistance, were burned from head to foot. The fire spread to the clothing of the four.
It was 8:26 o'clock when the fire department at station No. 19, Westport, received the call. Before the firemen arrived the flames were put out. The fire did not ignite the other decorations nor the building.
Captain Flahive of No. 5 police station, and Officer Wood went to the academy. Considerable persuasion was required to gain an entrance. When the mother superior was asked for the names of the injured this information was denied.
Drs. B. H. Wheeler and Horrigan were summoned. All the cotton bandages in the drug store at Thirty-ninth and Genessee were bought outright. It was necessary later to send to Westport for more medicine and bandages. The physicians remained at the bedsides of the injured girls through the night.
The school authorities refused to make any details of the accident public. To all questions as to names and the extent of the injuries, those in authority replied that there was absolutely nothing to give out.
"We have the story," the reporters told them.
"Well, if you publish anything about this, we will sue your paper for libel."
The girls at the academy had planned for a Hallowe'en dance this evening at Little's hall in Westport but because of the occurrence last night, the party has been cancelled.