Eric Edward Esper
The Hartford Connecticut Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus Fire
2018
Oil on Canvas
24x38
There were several thousand people at the circus July 6 1944 for the mid day show. As excited spectators were watching the Flying Wallendas start their high wire act, a fire started on the sidewall of the enormous big top, and spread rapidly over the canvas waterproofed with gasoline and paraffin. As the fire burned over the crowd a panic driven stampede cause many people to become tangled in the bleachers and animal cages in the ring, trapping them inside the tent as it became completely engulfed and burned to the ground in less than 10 minutes.

This tragedy took 168 lives and injured hundreds of people yet no circus employees or animals perished.
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