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The Church of the Company Fire was one of the deadliest fires in history, due largely to a widespread lack of disregard for fire safety procedures at the time.  The Church of the Company of Jesus lacked appropriate fire exits; furthermore, due to the large size of the congregation on the night of 8 December 1863, all of the side doors had been closed, leaving only the main exit available as thousands of panicked parishioners attempted to escape.


The presence of candles and gas lamps and flammable wall hangings meant that the wooden structure quickly became an inferno when a gas lamp ignited some of the wall hangings shortly after 7:00 PM, 8 December 1863.  The absence of a fire brigade in Santiago, Chile, at that time meant that there were no response teams to come to the rescue of the thousands of victims of The Church of the Company Fire.


On 20 December 1863, Jose Luis Claro y Cruz formed Santiago’s first Volunteer Firemen’s Corp.  Clearly marked fire exits are now required in all public structures. 

 

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