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VOLUME LXXVIII.— NO. 28.
GREATEST CONFLAGRATION OF THE DECADE
IF it was the firebug, he demonstrated
last night how he needs watching.
His business has developed into the
The block of buildings bounded by
Filth, Fourth, Brannan and Bryant streets
w.is swept away by flames last evening,
which, &Ot satisfied, sprang across Fourth
street and ate ravenously into the Mock
eastward, toward the water and the Mail
A lack of water and the presence of a
of wina gave every reason to those
who witnessed the almost unresisted sweep
uf the tire that a tremendous path of ruins
would stretch through the half mile of frame
structures that extended from the point of
the initial blaze to the water front and its
shipping. The veering wind, however,
which turned the big blaze back over the
ruin it had already wrought, and where
the completeness of its work had left noth
ing for it to feed upon, saved the south of
As it was there was enough. All the
horror and panic and pathos of those great
lires such as come rarely into the history
of great cities and has not been seen in
San Francisco these ton years; horror and
panic and pathos with a background of
lurid magnificence such as lifts the spirit
of the mere spectator and makes him in
different for the time being to all its cost.
Before the swift speed of the fire— with
its heat, its hungry, eager and awful roar,
its arms flung into the sky— tied shrieking
V7omen, bearing their children in their
arms, and men and other children with
them, carrying what of their belongings
they could; horses 6trugcled and became
panic-stricken behind other wagon-loads
of hastily piled-up furniture; policemen
battled with an unnumbered mob of peo
ple pressing at the lire lines at every ap
proach to the fire around the threatened
area, while firemen with impotent hose
nozzles that threw no water rushed here
and there in desperation, while others
with axes and ladders did what they could
to break the progress of the tire.
For two blocks in the direction the fire
«v speeding before the wind the residents
carried their goods into the street and
stood guard over them, waiting the sign of
imminent danger before moving further,
while the hundreds of people whose houses
were destroyed made their way into neigh
boring streets, out of the path of the
flames, and there bivouacked until late into
the night, some with a few belongings,
nursing their babies on the sidewalk, glad
to have escaped, but already wondering
and almost hopeless, in their losses and
misery, concerning the morrow.
So rapid and complete was the destruc
tion of an entire block, entirely built of
wood, that it is impossible to specify tiie
number of residences — all of them of poor
people — destroyed, but their number is
estimated at 200. This means con
:hly more than 200 families
entmJy burned nut, for many oi iiu
houses were occupied by several. In the
district were also a number of small hotels
and lodging*houßes, notably the Stanford j
House at Fourth and Brannan, the Ster- j
I louse, the New Prescott on Brannan
Street and Shirley's Hotel, a two-story
on Fourth street. These represent
several hundred more people thrown out
of homes. The total number of buildings
destroyed is said to be 275.
In the fever of excitement rumors fol
lowed one another in a tangled procession
concerning accidents and Joss of life, but at
this writing not one of them had been sub
stantiated. Jt was said that a child was lost
in the convent attached to St. Rose's
Church on Brannan street. It was said,
again, that three men were lost in the fall
of the church itself; again, that a woman
was burned in the Stanford House; again,
that a fireman had been caught in the fall
of the walls of Horstman's chemical works.
This lust was true in so far that a fire
man was injured by some burning scant
lings, but not seriously.
The loss is estimated by Fire Marshal
Towe at $1,000,000. And the great part of
this great sum is chargeable to the fact
that the old water-pipes of six, eight and
ten inches through this district failed
utterly to supply water sufficient to
meet the occasion. It was pitiful
to witness an army of brave firemen
facing flames such as these were with a
The San Francisco Call.
Flames Ravage the South Side— Many Mills and Work=
men's Homes Destroyed— Loss About One Million
Dollars— Lack of Water.
IN THE HEART OF THE FLAMES— ST. ROSE'S CHURCH WHEN HALF CONSUMED.
[Sketched for </•<• "Call" by Lrtvis.]
few little streams that rpse languidly to
the height of the first stories of the buiid- !
ings. For a solid hour and a half an en- j
gine stood rattling its balance wheel on j
Brannan street, unable to throw so much;
as a glass of water on the furnace.
In the midst of all the clash and roar
and hurly-burly, the falling of buildings,
the new burst of flames and the blinding
rush of smoke and shower of sparks; the |
electric wires, telephone, telegraph, light ■
and power— forming a network over- j
head throughout the entire district— j
were a constant menace, and nobody i
wiJl ever know the number of
narrow escapes that resulted from their
fall. During the early part of the fire the j
electric-light wires on Bryant street j
emitted a snapping battery of sparks, j
warning the firemen. A telephone i
message was, after a time, sent to the j
company and the current was shut off. |
Later tne poles supporting the wires fell |
here and there throughout the burning I
area, bringing their wires with them to the |
great danger and disadvantage of those
within the lines.
PROGRESS OF THE FIRE.
Four Alarms Sounded — Furniture
Factories Rapidly Turned
The fire started shortly before 6 o'clock
THE BIG FIRE AS THOUSANDS SAW IT FROM THE GROWN OF NOB HILL.
[Sketched- for the "Call** by Camj>VtU.}
SAN FRANCISCO, FRIDAY MORNING, JUNE 28, 1895.
, .... j
in the rear of the engine-house of the Pan >
Francisco box factory, operated at 515 to !
Sl9 Fifth street by Carrack, Williams &
Wright. Their night watchman, A. W.
Collins of 627 Webster street, discovered
the ilames. He raised the cry of fire, and
the policeman on the beat turned in an
alarm from box (i-i at the corner of Harri
son and Fifth streets. Second, third and
fourth alarms followed in quick succession
and soon the entire department was at the
scene, but tiiose who were on the spot
speak of an unaccountable delay in getting
the first stream on the tire.
Meanwhile outsiders weTe making vigor
ous efforts to control the flames, but a
strong northwesterly wind was blowing
and the conflagration spread rapidly in all
directions. To the southward on Fifth
street were innumerable small mills and
furniture manufactories and these were as
I grain before the reaper. To the north,
|on the corner of Bryant street, was
I a three-story building, occupied by
Main &. Winchester's saddle and
collar manufactory. For a time it was
thought possible to save this, but John
Hcrstman's bicarbonate factory adjoining
caught from the box-factory and burned
like tinder. As it fell the corner building
| took fire, and the Humboldt Lumber Com
pany's (Korbel Brothers) "yards also be
came ignited. H. "Washburne's horse
market went also, though the animals
Soon the part of the block fronting on j
Fifth street was a roaring, seething fur- i
nace. of which the heat broke windows on j
the opposite side of the street and drove j
pedestrians from the sidewalks. Sashes
blinds smoked and caught from the heat,
and it was only by the constant applica- j
! tion of water that the spread of the tire
| to the north was prevented.
On Fifth street E. Dnmonteile's marble
i works, Uhler's furniture factory, Kuhlen's
i tool works, Snyder & Richten's furniture !
| factory, Hubner's furniture frame works,
a saloon occupied by John Hummel,
!J. Einstein's Commercial Feed mills, j
the Independent Tool Manufactory,
W. Henneberg's tool works and
the Ousten Feed mills ' were quickly i
consumed and, the Belmont Hotel, on the j
j corner of Fifth and Brannan streets, |
owned by the A. C. Stoetzer estate, was at- j
tacked. It stayed the flames for a moment j
and enabled the firemen to save the office
and a portion of the sheds of the Scott &
Van Arsdale Lumber Company just
across Brannan street. The flames trav
| eled so rapidly, however, that it seemed
j that the firemen were lighting along with !
I rather than in advance of it.
Eastward, on both sides of Brannan
i street, swept the tire, devouring everything
in its path.
St. Rose's Church, its new half-finished
j cathedral, the convent school and the par
ish house, occupied by Rev. Father Nu
gent, were a tr-tal loss almost in an instant.
Machine-shops, luraber-yards, wood works,
p'aning-mills and' dwelling-houses added
to the fierceness of tne llames, which now
traveled at racehorse speed. The new
three-story warehouse which the Califor
nia Casket Company of San Jose had just
fitted' up fell in within ten minutes from
the instant the flames first attacked it.
The lire spread throughout the blocks
adjoining Brannan street on either side.
At Bluxome street its southerly course was
checked by the big brick warehouses of
the Overland Freight Transportation Com
pany and the Breslauer wool stores.
Trucks and piles of lumber on the south
side of the street were burned, but the
bricK structures would not take tire.
On the north side of Bluxome street
George Fuller & Co.'s manufactory of tine
otlice furniture offered a fine mark for the
flames, and within fifteen minutes $15 ,000
worth of property was in ashes. An oil
storehouse of brick belonging to F. B.
Joyce <fc Co. went next, and butned with a
thick heavy smoke which stifled the fire
men and seriously handicapped their
At the corner of Bluxome and Fourth
streets the Southern Pacific Hotel resisted
the fire for a time. The wind, however,
was blowing sparks and embers from two
blocks of burning buildings directly over
it and soon the flames captured it also.
Across Fourth street from the hotel was
a iar^e haybarn belonging to the San
Francisco Hay and Grain Company. Men
stood upon the roof and kicked off biazing
embers and tore up kindling shingles, bat
in vain. Just eight minutes elapsed irom
the time the Southern Pacific Hotel burst
into blight flames till the haybarn fell in.
This, however, ended the advance of the
flames in that direction. The Washing
ton Hotel, oh the southwestern corner of
Bluxome and Fourth streets, was threat
ened and was actually on fire three or four
times, but was only partially destroyed.
The brick stables of the Pacific Improve
ment Company and the big brick winery
of S. Lachman & Go. furnished an effect
ual barrier to further progress by the
ilames and soon the fire was in that section
pretty well under control.
ON FOURTH STREET.
Heavy Losses of Property-Owners
on Both Sides of the Thor
For quite awhile after the fire started the
residents on Fourth street did not feel any
alarm that the ilames would reach them.
They ran out of their stores and dwelling
houses and gazed up Freelon and Welsh
streets at the flames, which were roaring
and crackling around Fifth street. It was
fully half an hour before the serious nature
PRICE FIVE CENTS.
of the fire became evident to them. By
that time, too, the flames had eaten their
way half way through the block, and the
firemen gave notice to the Fourth-street
people that they should begin to pack up
and move if they desired to save anything,
as the lire would surely reach them.
Then the hustle began. The storekeepers
begaw to pack up their goods and give
them into the hands of messengers, who
carried them to some place of safety. Those
who lived in rooms upstairs brought out
their household effects and took them
wherever they could out of the way of the
It was a little after 9 o'clock when the
fire began to envelop the rear portions of
the Fourth-street buildings. Those on the
side below Brannan street were the first to
go, as that was the spot whrre the flames
were hottest. On the southwest corner of
Fourth and Brannan streets was the
saloon of Harkins & Shea. Next was
the building known as the New
Prescott House. The furniture in the
place was insured for $1500. At (308 Fourth
street was the store of King <fc Young,
plumbers, and adjoining them was an
empty house. A. Robin kept a saloon at
612, and next door was P. A. Smith's hard
ware store. Both men were insured to the
amount of their losses. At 6141^ Fourth
street Simon Israel kept a furnishing
goods store. He was insured for $500.
The Southern Pacific Pharmacy at 618
Fourth street, owned by A. J. Ashim, was
a total loss as far as the stock was con
cerned, but there was a small insurance
on the building. Next, on the west
side of Fourth street, was the Postal
Telegraph office, located in a portion of
the Stanford House. This entire building,
which was owned by J. Rothschild, was
completely destroyed. It was, however, in
sured for about $15,000. Mr. Rothschild
estimates his loss at $30,000,
On the east side of Fourth street, below
Brannan, there were several places com
pletely destroyed. On the southeast corner
was the Standard saloon, owned by Chris
Hartman. His loss is $1200, with $800 in
surance. Next door, going south, were
several two-story dwellings. Following
were the occupants: No. 603, Mrs. Duffy ;
(X) 5, Mrs. Shea; 607, vacant; 609. J. Quig
ley; 611, Mrs. Denneny; 613, vacant.
On the other side of Fourth street Stel-
Ling Bros.' grocery and saloon occupied the
:orner. Their place was swept out of
sight, but they were insured. Next came
the Bargain House and a harness and
saddlery store kept by Ernst F. Stein.
Adjoining was the Mechanics' store, par
tially insured. The rooms upstairs were
occupied at the time by William Bohle,
and adjoining, at 552>< Fourth street, John
Shea lived with his family. Abe S. Levy
was also a resident. The property was in
sured, but the losses on stock will amount
to about $1800.
When the fire crossed Fourth street
above Brannan it caught Engelberg's
bakery at the corner of Freelon street and
made quick work of it and the adjoining
buildings down to Brannan street. Among
the losses were: M. <ireen, boots and
shoes, $850 loss, insurance $500; J. Samme,
barber-shop. $200, total loss ; H. B. Goecken,
hay and grain, $1200 loss, insurance $900.
The coiner building at Brannan street was
Bpied as a saloon by J. Bernhard. It
valued at $750, insurance $450.
1 the "buildings along Fourth street
families occupying the upper rooms.
They moved their effects out early when
the first indications were given that the
fire would reach them. It was well
that they took the precaution, for
when first started the flames swept
down lfke a besom, and carried everything
before them. It was only the veering
around of the strong wind after the fire
crossed Fourth street which prevented the
big railroad building from taking tire, and
thus assist in carrying the flames onward.
However, the heroic efforts of the firemen
prevented the railroad building from be
ing included in the holocaust. The prop
erty on the fifty-vara lot on the southeast
corner of Fourth and Freelon streets was
owned by Thomas Knight the capitalist.
It was insured for almost its full value.
Among the other sufferers on the east
side of Fourth street were the following:
No. 518 Fourth street, Walter Callahan,
saloon, insurance $700 ; No. 520, M. M. Me-