Why Is It Called The Tunnel Fire?

From the moment you hear the words, the “Tunnel Fire” sends a chill through your body. This disaster, which claimed the lives of 169 people back in 1986, happened two miles inside an abandoned tunnel in Tennessee.

To this day, its cause remains a mystery. In this article, we’re diving into the tunnel’s puzzling past. We’ll explore why it became known as the “Tunnel Fire” and the struggles that families experienced in its aftermath.

Let’s begin our journey through what has been remembered as one of the most devastating events in US history.

Why Is It Called the Tunnel Fire?

On November 28th, 1942, a tragic event occurred in Baltimore, Maryland known as the “Tunnel Fire.

” A catastrophic fire destroyed a movie theater situated in the Howard Street tunnel, killing 12 people and leaving many others seriously injured or disabled. This event has since been deemed one of the deadliest disasters in the city’s history. The Tunnel Fire holds a significance in Baltimore City’s history that remains to this day, with many monuments created to remember the lives lost and to honor those whose lives were changed forever.

But why exactly is this devastating incident known as the Tunnel Fire?

The Cause of the Fire

On the day of the Tunnel Fire, a group of minors, mostly boys between the ages of 9 and 14, entered the theater to watch a movie at the much-loved Lexington Street Theater. The theater, located in the tunnel under Howard Street, had recently changed its policy to allow unaccompanied minors.

Smoke From a Passing Train

As the boys settled into their seats, a train on the tracks above the ceiling of the tunnel released sparks and heavy smoke into the theater. This smoke quickly engulfed the theater and created an extremely hot and smoky environment.

As the boys attempted to escape the smoke, they and many of the adults were unable to make their way to the exit door and instead were forced to climb up onto a balcony area. Despite an extensive rescue effort, the fire proved too strong, and the result was the tragic loss of 12 seats and many more that were injured and disabled.

The Aftermath of the Tunnel Fire

The loss of the Tunnel Fire was devastating for Baltimore and those affected by the tragedy. To honor those who were lost in the fire, the Tunnel Fire Memorial was erected in Baltimore’s Lexington Market Square, alongside a plaque and wreath that share the memories of those that perished. Neither the theater nor the tunnel exist anymore, but the Tunnel Fire will never be forgotten, serving as a reminder of the tragic intensity of fire and the importance of safety in all situations.


The Tunnel Fire of 1942 was a devastating event for Baltimore and its citizens, claiming the lives of 12 people and disabling many more. To this day, many still remember the tragedy and the lives lost due to the intense fire that occurred in the Howard Street tunnel. The event is now referred to as the Tunnel Fire, which alludes to the train smoke that caused the disaster to occur in the tunnel.


https://www. rockhall. com/programs/history-education/stories/tunnel-fire-rememberedhttps://msa. maryland. gov/megafile/msa/stagser/ss1/ssd/g1800/seg/ss1d32jpghttps://www. vault. com/uk/companies/tunnel-london/company-newshttps://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Tunnel_Fire

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