1901 - One hundred and forty-eight city blocks laid waste. LOSS $15,000,000. BILLOWS OF FLAME SWEEP JACKSONVILLE, LEAVING ASHES AND DEATH IN THEIR WAKE.
Jacksonville, Fla., May 3, 1901
Acres of Smoldering Ruins Mark the Site of Metropolis of Florida -
TEN THOUSAND PERSONS LEFT WITHOUT SHELTER
Mayor Bowden Estimates That at Least That Many Have Been Made Homeless
IT IS FEARED MANY PERISHED IN AWFUL CONFLAGRATION
Property Loss Estimated at $15,000,000 - Hotels, Schools, Residences, Churches and Business Houses Were Swept Away. Jacksonville, Fla. May 4--1 a.m.-- The most disastrous fire in the history of this city began yesterday shortly after noon in a small factory, from a defective wire, according to the best belief, and burned for nearly ten hours. In that time a property damage estimated from $10,000,000 to $15,000,000 was effected.
According to the city map 130 blocks were burned many of them in the heart of the business and residence section... The mayor at a late hour stated that he estimated the loss at $15,000,000, and that 10,000 to 15,000 people were homeless.
At 1 am the situation is one approaching desolation in a large section of the city. The burned district reaches from Burbridge street on the north to the St. Johns river on the south a distance of quite two miles. The width of the desolated area is thirteen blocks. Within this space practically everything is blackened ruins. On Bay street the principal mart of trade the Western Union Telegraph Company building is the first going west.
Everything east of Laura on Bay, is gone.
At 10:15 o'clock last night the fire was under control having practically burned itself out. The suburban settlements with the exception of La Villa are intact. La Villa was badly hurt. The extent of the damage cannot be told until tomorrow. Thousands of persons are on the streets tonight homeless with practically all of their worldly possessions upon their backs. The depot of the railroads, situated in the southeastern section, have been turned into temporary lodging houses and hospitals. Luckily the weather is fine so that there will be no suffering on that score.
Meetings of the city council, the commercial bodies and the charitable institutions will be called Saturday morning to devise ways and means for meeting the situation. It is not known yet if an appeal for help will be issued though it is thought likely that the exigencies of the occasion will demand such action. It is hoped that an appeal can be avoided.
HOW THE FIRE BEGAN
Jacksonville, Fla. May 3- At 12:45 o'clock today Jacksonville experienced the most disastrous fire of her existence. The entire length of Beaver street from Davis street to the creek of Liberty street, has been totally destroyed. This is fourteen solid locks of residences. For the same distance Ashley and Church streets have both been completely blotted out.
When the fire reached Bridge street in its eastward course it enveloped in flames three blocks Duval, Monroe and the north side of Adams, burning up that entire section of the city and running fourteen blocks to the Duval street bridge.
ELKS LOSE HOME
A desperate effort was made to save the BALDWIN mansion, which was recently purchased by the Elks for $18,000. No earthly power could save this building, and that entire block and the one west were quickly a mass of flames. Once the fire got started on Main street, the closely adjoining buildings went one after the other paint shops with barrels of oil were plentiful in this district, and, as they caught on fire one after the other, the blaze arose hundreds of feet high and quickly set the other buildings across the street on fire.
Then the HUBBARD Hardware store caught, and the people scattered when they saw what had happened. Hundreds of pounds of powder and a great deal of dynamite was stored in this building. In ten minutes there was a roar, and the building collapsed like an egg shell. The dynamite and the powder had exploded. Here again there was much danger for the firemen. Cartridges began to explode and bullets began to fly around, and the effort to fight the flames at this point had for a time to be abandoned. This was only the start of the most intense part of the fire.
The new FURCHGOTT building was soon ablaze and then quickly the GARDNER building was also a mass of flames. Down the street the fire spread with rapidity and the entire section of Bay street from Market to Main streets, and extending for five blocks back, was burning all at once. The city building went, the fire department building, the armory, the county courthouse, the clerk's office with the county records, the criminal courthouse, the city jail and the graded schools, and the Catholic church and orphanage, St. John's Episcopal church and the convent. The entire city of magnificent buildings was all burned up in less than four hours. The scene was one that beggers description.
WESTERN UNION ESCAPES
At 8:30 o'clock the fire was checked at the intersection of Laura and Bay streets, where the Commercial bank is located, which went up in flames, the Western Union being just across the street and not damaged.
Among the prominent hotels burned were the St,. James, the United States the Placide and the Windsor.
It is impossible at this hour to ascertain the losses, but it is estimated by insurance agents that it will be between eight and nine million dollars.
Six lives are reported lost in the conflagration. The mayor has called a meeting of the city council for tomorrow to consider ways and means of relieving the suffering.
12 Midnight. - The plans of the city as prepared by the city surveyors show that 130 blocks were burned and a part of another block. the estimate of residences to the block in the residential district is ten and in the business section the blocks were solid.
The chief of police ordered all saloons closed until further notified.
The Atlanta Constitution
May 4, 1901
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