1921 – 68 Die in Rialto Theater Fire.

The year brought death once again to a fire conscious city. On the evening of November 21, 1921, a standing room audience was viewing Rudolph Valentino in “The Sheik” at the Rialto Theater, 86 College Street. Suddenly the two-story brick and wood building was the scene of panic. Prior to the flickering movie, the audience, including 200 Yale students, had witnessed a stage show in which an incense burner was used, apparently to create “atmosphere,” for the Valentino movie. A blaze erupted back stage, then shot out onto the stage. Memory of the catastrophe was still fresh, and the year was not out when fire hit a two-story wood building at 882 Whalley Avenue, just five months after the Westville Fire District came into the city. Two days later, on December 1, 1921, at 9:27 p.m., a spark reportedly ignited rubber cement at the Seamless Rubber Company, Hallock Street, resulting in a loss of $145.

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