Deadly fire in the Baquet Theatre

On 20th March, 1888, 120 people died in a devastating fire in the Baquet Theatre.
On 20th March, 1888, 120 people died in a devastating fire in the Baquet Theatre.

The Baquet Theatre, located in the Santo António Street in the city of Porto (Portugal), was built by the Portuguese tailor António Pereira Baquet on February 21, 1858. It was premiered with a Carnival ball on February 13 of the following year and soon it became a very popular theater, known for hosting famous shows that everyone wanted to see.

Deadly fire

On the night of March 20, 1888 a tragic accident happened. During the benefit party of the actor Firmino Rosa, a blazing fire broke out behind the scenes of the theater. The fire quickly spread, consuming all the interior of the building. After just two hours, the Baquet Theatre was completely destroyed and reduced to rubble.

For hundreds of visitors inside, those were moments of unimaginable fear and horror. The rapid spreading of the fire, the intense smoke, the lack of illumination (having been cut off as soon as the fire broke out) and the general panic resulted in the death of approximately 120 people.

Looking for someone to blame

The news of the fire spread almost immediately and appeared in the pages of local newspapers already the next morning. Even though the fire itself was an accident, the public blamed the lack of security of the building and the delayed arrival of firemen for the extensive damage and the large number of victims.

The political class tried to blame the safety inspector, Guilherme Gomes Fernandes, who was in charge of the facility's inspection a year before the tragic event. But it turned out that in his report, the inspector specifically highlighted the need to carry out some works to create better safety conditions in the theater. Since his recommendations had been ignored back then, he refused to take responsibility for the tragedy.

Memorial to the victims of the Baquet Theater

In the Cemetery of Agramonte (Porto, Portugal), there is a huge memorial monument which recalls the tragic event at the Baquet Theater. The monument includes iron pieces from the destroyed theatre, all twisted by the fire, and an iron wreath that symbolizes the death of the victims.

Do you know any other memorial monument, that includes pieces of an existing building or personal objects of the deceased? Contact us and let us know.

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