Survivors of the Disaster De-
HOW ESCAPE WAS CUT OFF
One Young Miss Demonstrates on
Several witnesses were called before Judge Crain in General Sessions yesterday at the manslaughter trial of Isaac Harris and Max Blanck, owners of the Triangle Waist Company, where 147 persons lost their lives in a fire last March 25, who testified to the frantic efforts made by those employed on the ninth floor of the building escape from the enrushing flames.
One of the witnesses described the fire down in the smallest detail, and all agreed that the door leading to the Washington Place stairway was locked. The most important testimony was that of Yetta Lublitz, who was employed as an operator on the ninth floor. Describing her experience she said:
"I never knew that there was a stairway on the Washington Place side as we never were allowed to leave on any but the Greene Street side. I was employed as an operator on the ninth floor and was about to punch my time card when I heard some one cry 'fire'.""Did any flames touch you?" asked Max D. Steuer, counsel for the two defendants, on cross-examination.
"Yes, some of the flames reached my hair and burned it. I grabbed up a piece of cloth and put it over my head to protect it from the flames. Burning cloth was being blown about."
"You went to the roof, you said: what did you do there?" asked Mr. Steuer.
"After we reached the roof we were helped to the adjoining roof by some students from the New York University Law School."
Anna Gullo of 437 East Twelfth Street, an operator on the ninth floor, testified that there were never any fire drills by the Triangle Waist Company, and that she never saw a key in the lock of the Washington Place door on that floor. She was dressed in mourning, and in reply to Assistant District Attorney Bostwick's questions she said that she was one girl whom she knew only as "Katie" fall to the floor just before just before she escaped by the elevator.
Ethel Monick, 16 years old, of 164 East Twelfth Street, said she was working as a helper for about three months before the fire. "I was on the ninth floor when I heard the cry of fire," she testified. "I saw smoke pouring from the Greene Street stairs but tried to get out that way just the same. I gave it up when I saw the crowd there, and ran to the Washington Place door, but found it locked. I tried and tried to open it, but could not. I thought it was because I was not strong enough and called to the other girls. It wouldn't open at all."
"How did you try to open it?" asked Mr. Bostwick. "Demonstrate the manner in which you tried to do so on a door in this room."
Judge Crain then directed that the witness open the door leading from the courtroom. This door had been locked, and the witness walked over and, grasping the knob, twisted it and turned it. She pushed it outward and inward in frantic efforts to open it, and then resumed the stand and, continuing her story, said: "I am positive that I never saw the Superintendent on the ninth floor and am sure that once before I tried to open the door but not could not."
"Has any one spoken to you about the fire?" asked Mr. Steuer on cross-examination.
"No: I am glad that they have not, as I don't like to talk about it."
"If you noticed that the door was locked why was it that you didn't tell Mr. Blanck or Mr. Harris about it?"
"I am only a poor working girl," replied the witness.
"Then I take it you were afraid to speak to Mr. Harris or Mr. Blanck, weren’t you?"
"No, not exactly afraid," replied the witness, "but I had heard of cases where girls had been discharged for making complaints to the bosses. Maybe they had done something wrong, but I am not sure and can't say exactly."
"You say that you never saw Supt. Bernstein on the ninth floor?" asked Mr. Steuer.
"Yes I am very sure about that. I am under oath and know that I did not see him there, but he might have been there and I might have not seen him, you know."
"No, I have not sued for damages." Several other witnesses
were called, who described the fire and corroborated all the other witnesses
in saying that the door was locked. Judge Crain then adjourned the
case until today.
Triangle Shirtwaist Fire Trial Homepage