Remembering the Triangle Factory Fire, 100 years later


Sarah Friedman Dworetz

Job: unknown

9th floor

Interviewed: June 12, 1958

On the day of the fire I was working on the 9th floor, I had gotten my pay and we were all ready to leave and all dressed.

The fire must have been burning on the 8th floor for some time when we went to the freight elevator exit to go home. We had to leave that way because that is the way the watchman was able to look in our bags and where he stayed.

There was a narrow vestibule leading to the freight elevator. I was waiting in that vestibule when all of a sudden the smoke, and then the fire, began to come up the elevator shaft. I turned to run back to the other end of the shop where the freight elevator was. I took one look into the shop as I ran and I saw the flames coming in from all sides.

The elevators were going up and down. On the front side the door to the staircase was closed. I had to fight and push my way across the shop. There was screaming and shoving and many girls tried to climb over the machine tables.

The elevator had made several trips. I knew this was the last one but it was so loaded that the car started to go down. The door was not closed. Suddenly I was holding to the sides of the door looking down the elevator shaft with girls screaming and pushing behind me.

It was the old style elevator -- cable elevator -- to make it go down, you pulled the cable from the floor up. That cable was at the side of the elevator shaft. I reached out and grabbed it. I remember sliding all the way down. I was the first one to slide down the shaft. I ended up on top of the elevator and then I lost consciousness. Others must have landed on top of me. When the rescue workers came to the shaft they pulled me out and laid me out on the street. I had a broken leg, broken arm. My skull had been injured. One of my hands had been burned by friction.

NOTE: (apparently this is a case in which the victim, taken for dead, was removed with the other bodes but separated from them when life was detected in time.)

They moved me into the book store. My only worry was that I did not want to go to a hospital. We lived on 170 Henry St. I was only afraid of the shock to my mother. I lived on the 4th floor.

I was sick for 6 months.

I never heard from the company after.

At the trial, the lawyer asked me over and over again but I refused to say that the door was open.

We got a $1.50 for being witnesses.

I must have worked there about a year at the time of the fire but the day of the fire was the first time I tried to use the front elevator.

NOTE: Mrs. Dworetz learned in this interview for the first time that there was a fire escape.

While we were on the freight side I saw flames in the shop. The flames were all around us as we ran across the floor.

When I got home I still had my pay envelope still clutched in my hand.

NOTE: Mrs. Dworetz volunteered the information that every time March 25th rolls around many of these event seize her.

She said that some people are amused by her practice of not locking her door when she is at summer resorts but she says they just don't understand.