Kim Phillips-Fein's article ("The View From the Booth," May 15) correctly states the dangers of silver nitrate film. It was quite flammable, caused numerous fires, and led to fairly stringent building code rules regarding the construction of projection booths. However, it was not the cause of the 1903 Iroquois Theatre disaster.
The Iroquois, which had opened little more than a month before the fire, was a theater for theatrical productions--not motion pictures. There probably wasn't as much as a single frame of silver nitrate film on the premises. The cause of the fire was determined to have been a spark from a defective spotlight, which ended up setting a curtain on fire.
Kim Phillips-Fein replies:
Thanks for setting us straight.