The Great Baltimore Fire

 

The Great Baltimore Fire
Source: Wikimedia.org

 

In the past centuries, a great roaring fires have ravaged well-loved metropolises of America and the world—one of which, the most notoriously known, was the Great Baltimore Fire.

On a frightful February 7 and 8 in 1904, a raging, nearly ceaseless blaze devoured a major portion of Baltimore, incinerating much of the central (1,500 buildings which covered 140 acres, 20 blocks of downtown Baltimore, and 1,000 buildings severely damaged)—from the western area of North Howard Street, to the north, then all the way to the east where the Jonestown (Old Town, now Little Italy) neighborhoods were located. The fire consumed historical sites such as the old Baltimore City Hall and the Battle Monument Square.

During this conflagration, 1,231 firefighters worked together to put it down, including professionals from truck and engine companies of Baltimore City’s fire department as well as volunteers from Maryland’s outlying towns, nearby counties, and neighboring American states (e.g., DC and Philadelphia). Further states like Virginia and New York came to provide workforce, arriving in railroads and equipped with horse-drawn pumpers, wagons, and more helpful equipment placed inside box cars and flat cars. However, these proved useless because the hose couplings sent over did not fit the hydrants Baltimore had during the time.

By the third day, at last, the fire ceased. It engulfed the city for thirty-one hours, and resulted in $150,000,000 worth of damage ($100 million in property loss), which, based in dollar equivalent as of the year 2014, is equal to $3.84 billion. Furthermore, the aftermath made thirty-five thousand citizens of Baltimore lose their jobs. It was said the reason behind the blaze’s tireless thirty-one-hour duration had much to do with Baltimore’s firefighter equipment not meeting the then national standards. And although Baltimore was condemned for its fire hydrants, plenty of other cities in America were already prepared with six hundred various sizes of fire hose couplings. The hoses used during the time of the fire only presented a tiny portion of the transported equipment. This 1904 disaster led to the standardization of hydrants in the United States of America.

There were other rumors such as that of a discarded cigarette, in Hurst Building’s basement, was said to have caused the Great Baltimore Fire. But what was more miraculous was that there were no reports of direct deaths, no burned homes, and the domed City Hall of Baltimore (built in 1867) was preserved. After two weeks of city council reviews and hearings, the city adopted a building code. The burned sections of Baltimore were rebuilt using materials such as granite pavers, which are fireproof.

 

References

Wikipedia. 2017. “Great Baltimore Fire.” Accessed February 3, 2017. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Baltimore_Fire.

History. 2017. “1904 The Great Baltimore Fire begins.” Accessed February 3, 2017. http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/the-great-baltimore-fire-begins.

 

 

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