Sponsored by the
U.S. Fire Administration
The Rhythm Night Club fire occurred in Natchez, Miss on April 23, 1940. The fire appears to have started after a discarded match or cigarette reportedly ignited the decorative Spanish moss that was draping down from the ceiling of the club.
Poor means of egress (windows had been nailed shut), combustible decorations, and a highly overcrowded building as some 300 people gathered to see a popular swing band contributed to the high number of fatalities.
The highly combustible decorations allowed the fire to spread quickly and large pieces of the moss dropped to the floor blocking the safe exit of many of the occupants. The club was housed in a one story, 120 ' long x 38 ' wide corrugated metal building. It had only one exit in the event of an emergency and that was the main entrance. Another door was there but it was padlocked and the windows were reportedly nailed shut.
Read more about this incident online :