Death Toll At Catholic Hill
School May Be Eight Children

Colored School House Wiped Out By Flames; Five Known To Be Dead

Flames Sweep Building While Teachers Battle Bravely to Get Their Small Charges to Safety, and Delay In Turning In Alarm Allows Fire Great Headway Before Firemen Are Able To Reach the Scene.

Three More Bodies Are Believed In the Ruins

Most Disastrous Fire In The History of Asheville, From the Standpoint of Lives Lost, Visits the Catholic Hill School.

    Henry Thompson
    Elsie Thompson
    Mary Jamison
    Two Children
    Addie Logan
    Hazel Harris - went back to recover her new coat
    Inez Davis
    Hannah Simolton
    Daisy Dobbins
    Beatrice Henderson - Mission Hospital-jumped or
      pushed off fire escape; back hurt, burns on face and
    Helen Davis - Mission Hospital-serious burns about
      head and body.
    James Henry - Mission Hospital-jumped from third
      floor window to board walk-injury to back.
    Annie Walker - taken to home-slight burns.
    Katie Shuford - slight burs-taken to home.
    Ernest Ingram - treated on scene-injury to foot
      in using fire escape.
    Vivian Sargant - taken to home-jammed on fire
      escape - injuries slight.

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In what has been the most disastrous fire from the viewpoint of loss of life in the history of Asheville, the Catholic Hill School, an institution given over to the education of colored children, was totally destroyed yesterday, and from five to eight of the children were burned to death. The fire, which started in or close to the furnace room of the school, had gotten well under way before it was discovered, and by the time the various classes had been warned, the smoke was belching through the hallways and the flames making headway up the main avenue of escape, the central stairwell, which serves for all these floors of the building, and faces the front doorway. Splendid discipline was responsible for the saving of the majority of the 300 children in the school at the time, the teachers coolly guiding their children out, and only one serious case of panic being reported. This occurred when the children in the 3B grade, located on the third floor, became frantic over the suffocating clouds of smoke that were sweeping into their room, and in spite of the efforts of the room teacher to keep order, swept her aside and bolted and for the halls and the fire escape. Five of the identified dead and missing were from this class. The charred bodies of the five little ones carried to Murrough's Undertaking establishment before darkness ended the searching among the smouldering ruins last night; and at a late hour three of these children had been identified by grief-stricken parents. Besides the five bodies already recovered, it is expected that three others will be found among the soaking ashes and charred timbers that are all that is left of the Catholic Hill school house.

Started in Furnace Room.
The fire is reported to have started in the furnace room of the building , which is located in the basement of the school house, a three-story brick building, erected on a steep hillside, so that in the rear the second story opened out on the ground level. The building had been improved only last spring, to make it as safe as possible in case of fire; an outside fire escape with a double stair being built on the front and in addition to this escape, there were three regular exits. Repairs had been made in the furnace room, the brick casing of the boiler having been put into good condition, a new lining having been put into good condition, a new lining having been applied to the firebox, and new grates and doors installed. In spite of these improvements, however, the building proved and aged firetrap, for when the flames poured up the front stairwell, the main avenue of escape was shut off, and all action toward escape had to be through the fire escape and windows. It was stated by Fire Chief J.H. Wood and by Commissioner of Public Safety D. Hiden Ramsey, that the school had been frequently put through fire drills, the entire building being emptied in sixty seconds at these exercises. By the irony of fate, such a drill had been held at 9:45 o'clock yesterday morning, only an hour and three quarters before the fire was discovered and the pupils had gotten out in record time.

Smelled Smoke.
It was shortly before 11:30 o'clock, when Mamie Martin, the teacher of grade 4B on the third floor, smelled smoke, and went out to investigation. She close the door after her, in order that the children in her class might not become alarmed, went down the stairs, and saw that flames were eating through the walls of the furnace room into the lower hall. Hastily she made her way back, warning the teachers as she went, including Mamie Johnston, teacher of grade 3B on the third floor in the room adjoining hers. Then she went into her room, called for a fire drill, and with her back to the closed door, ordered the pupils fall in line. There were threats of panic, but she refused to allow the children to break, and in perfect order led her pupils down the stairs, and out. At the time it was believed by the teacher and pupils that all had gotten out, but the blinding smoke in the room had been so dense, that children who had failed to leave their seats through fright, or through having been stupefied by the smoke, might have been over looked, and this is the theory to account for the loss of two pupils form this class. It was this incident of the teacher's refusing to allow the children to leave in disorder, which gave rise to the accusation that one of the teachers had locked her pupils in their room-a charge which was absolutely disproved by the later evidence. At the inquiry established at the commissioner of safety's rooms in the city hall last night, to get at the facts from teachers, school officials, and fire department, the evidence showed that all of the teachers had stood with backs to the and brought their pupils to order, and by so doing had been largely responsible for the small loss of life. They were strongly commended their handling of the situation.