On March 25, 1911, an oil fire started in the Triangle sweatshop and claimed 146 lives (mostly immigrant women). There had been fires in the lofts before, but all had been relatively easy to extinguish; however, employees could not escape this fire. The Asch Building was considered fireproof compared to others. There was no sprinkler system and escape routes consisted of a small, mediocre elevator, a narrow stairwell, and a completely wrecked fire escape. Some tried using the fire escape, but it was unstable and all fell to their deaths. Desperate to escape, others jumped to their deaths out a window.
The flesh of them was cooked. The clothes of most of them were burned away. The whole, sound, unharmed girls who jumped on the other side of the street had done their best to fall feet down, but these fire-tortured, suffering ones fell inertly, as if they didn't care how they fell, just so that death came to them on the sidewalk instead of in the fiery furnace behind them.