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The Bangalore circus fire occurred on 8 February 1981 at the Venus Circus in Bangalore, India, where more than 92 lives were lost, the majority of them being children. The circus fire had some similarities to the Hartford circus fire, which occurred on the afternoon of 6 July 1944.


The fire swept the main tent of the circus, which crashed down in flames onto a crowd of about 4,000 people, setting off a stampede towards the exits.[1] The fire disaster claimed 92 lives and 300 others were injured.[2] 56 of those killed, and many of those hurt, were school children. [3] More children were killed in the stampede than by the fire. 21 adults who died were mothers and teachers who had brought the children to the special Saturday matinee for kids. Several of the burn victims were charred beyond recognition. A total of 119 patients were treated in the Burns centre at Victoria Hospital. Fourteen patients with more than 80 percent burns died within 48 hours of the disaster. 32 patients were operated by skin grafting or flap procedures.[2]


The cause of the fire was speculated to be a discarded cigarette[3] or an electric short circuit.[4] The blaze erupted at the back gate as a three-hour matinee [5] had ended and the spectators were moving towards the exits. Apart from the spectators inside, another huge crowd was waiting outside the tent for the next show.[4] The flames quickly spread through the canvas top and wooden bleachers,[3] whipped by strong winds. It took only 15 minutes for the fire to consume the tent, long before the first fire engines arrived.[4] The 4000-seater spectator gallery was also destroyed during the fire. Help could not be sought immediately as the telephone lines were dead. Many of the female performers ran into the fire to save the children. No animals were hurt as they were not inside the ring at the time, and employees pulled caged tigers and lions away from the blaze. Elephants and horses broke their tethers and escaped to safety.[4]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Death Toll Raised to 66 In Fire at Circus in India". The New York Times. 9 February 1981.
  2. ^ a b Das, R.A.P. (1983). "1981 Circus fire disaster in Bangalore, India: Causes, management of burn patients and possible presentation". Burns. 10 (1): 17–29. doi:10.1016/0305-4179(83)90123-7. PMID 6640383.
  3. ^ a b c "Indian circus fire claims 70th victim". Lakeland Ledger. 10 February 1981.
  4. ^ a b c d "66 perish as Big Top goes afire". Record-Journal. 9 February 1981.
  5. ^ "58 in India Are Killed, By Fire in a Circus Tent". The New York Times. 8 February 1981.