An average workday turned deadly as a fire consumed the Binghamton Clothing Company building 100 years ago today, commonly known as the Overall Factory. It’s thought that an errant cigarette tossed down a stairwell onto a pile of flammables caused the blaze that took the lives of 31 workers in the converted 4 story cigar factory on Wall Street.
Poor building layout, unsuitable fire escapes, and unpreparedness of the workers contributed to high casualties, which was nearly 1/3 of the workers in the building that day. Breeze through the open windows on the unusually hot summer day quickly spread the blaze. The building was declared a total loss just 90 minutes after the first report of smoke.
Though not as deadly as the Triangle Shirt Waist fire (which also recently observed it’s 100th anniversary), it was one of many tragedies of this type during the era and led to a push for tighter regulations and higher safety awareness in the workplace.
A plot in Spring Forest Cemetery was donated in the city’s First Ward for the unfortunate victims, some of which could not be identified. Thousands attended the funeral.
Pre-fire postcard (factory on right)