The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire occurred on March 25, 1911 in the Asch Building, Greenwich Village, New York City. It killed 146 employees of the garment shop, most either recent immigrants or the children of recent immigrants who had no choice but to work in sweatshops. Of the victims, 123 were female, 23 male. The aftermath of the fire proved unions are a good thing, as it set in motion a number of protections for future garment workers. The fire was a catalyst for change, and an example of industrialization gone wrong. It could have been prevented, had anyone at city hall - or any of the shirtwaist factory owners - cared enough to change the deplorable conditions of the building. Instead, what occurred was one of the worst factory fires in the United States.
The fire wasn't an isolated incident by any means; rather, it was one in a long series of historical disasters in part attributable to hubris, greed, and lack of oversight. Such man-made disasters, including those involving blimps, were common in the 19th and 20th centuries, and often resulted in a chaotic aftermath. As for historical fires in the US, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire is unequivocally one of the worst, particularly since the owners of the factory were found not guilty of any criminal charges.