On May 11, 1984, smoke filled the haunted castle as actors dressed as butchers and hunchbacks corralled patrons out of the burning building. Strobe lights gave glances of the grim scene. However, no one knew until after the fire was extinguished the true toll of the fire.
There was a long line outside of the connected trailers and plywood that made up the haunted castle at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson Township, New Jersey. The workers let groups of 25 in at a time. A thirteen year old boy in line was afraid, so a fourteen year old befriended him before entering the castle. He whipped open his lighter, lighting the way for the younger boy. Soon after, he bumped into a wall, which was covered in polyurethane padding. The wall immediately went up in flames. The fourteen year old began patting down the fire with his hands, when the fire didn't go out, but instead spread, he and his young friend ran out of the entrance yelling, "Fire!"
The structure was made of plywood and tar paper, while the props inside were made of foam rubber, fabric, and wax. The building had no fire protection, and many safety features were unusable because of vandals. The exit lights were burnt out. Fire alarms were vandalized and never replaced after 1979. In addition, exit doors were allegedly chained and emergency exits were fenced in and not accessible by patrons.
When the fourteen year old boy's lighter bumped into the polyurethane covered wall, the fire spread quickly due to the flammable props. The boy and his friend ran out of the haunted house yelling, "Fire!" An employee went to go investigate because patrons were often pulling pranks. Another employee, the actor playing "The Butcher," smelled the smoke and began helping patrons out of the darkened halls. Everyone was believed to be out of the castle.
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