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Circus continued from page 14

In 1950, a man named Robert Dale

Segee had been arrested for unrelated arsons admitted that he had started the fire due to a supernatural possession by a demon Indian who rode a flaming horse. He made the confession after a women standing in flames came to him in his dreams. No evidence against him could be found. Today a memorial for all those who died

that day sits in a large field behind the Fred D. Wish Elementary School where the big top sat on the day of the fire. Ground was broken for the memorial in 2004 with the dedication taking place on July 6, 2005. As you walk to the rear of the school you will find several granite blocks with inscriptions outlining the events during the fire. The ends and sides of the tent are marked by Dogwood trees the center ring of the memorial is the location where the center pole of the main tent stood. The ring lists the names of those who lost their lives during the fire and their ages. Around the ring are four granite benches and inscribed bricks with one one

stating “As close to hell as I want to get.” The walk way around the center ring has bricks the donors provided with messages to those who were lost and remembrance. The day I visited the memorial the

Retired Fire Chief of the Hartford Fire Department was there cleaning the area. He told us the fire took a toll on the families, responders and the city. He also stated that kids from the school will say good morning Circus kids and are very quiet and will not play or be disrespectful at recess when near the memorial. As always when a tragedy like this

happens new safety rules are put in place to insure this type of incident does not take place again. If you are ever in Hartford please take the time to visit this memorial it’s a large piece of fire service history and a place to remember those who lost their lives.

A big thanks to Mike Skidgell for the photos of

the fire and information. If you would like to know more go to


Top photo: The sidewalk at the Circus Memorial. Middle photo: A plaque describing the start of the fire. Bottom photo: The center ring with the names of those who lost their lives. Photo right: The Circus Memorial with Dogwood trees in the back round making the walls of the tent.

Hartford Circus Fire Memorial

Hudson Heat May 2010

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