Flames spread quickly on the tent, which had been treated with gasoline and paraffin to waterproof the canvas. Spectators thought it was part of the act at first, and could not get out until it was too late. Many were trampled or blocked by obstacles.
The best known victim was a young blond girl, known as "Little Miss 1565," after the number attached to her at the makeshift morgue. Her identity remains a mystery.
Several Ringling executives were convicted of negligence and served jail time. No one was charged with starting the fire.
-- Scott McCabe