Its safety was due to the energy and activity of its employees. Superintendent Leach reached it shortly after the shock and found a number of men already there, whom he stationed at points of vantage from roof to basement. The fire apparatus of the Mint was brought into service and help given by the fire department, and after a period of strenuous labor the flames were driven back. The peril for a time was critical, the windows on Mint Avenue taking fire and also those on the rear three stories, and the flames for a time pouring in and driving back the workers. The roof also caught fire, but the men within fought like Titans, and efficient aid was given by a squad of soldiers sent to them. In the end the fire fiend was vanquished, though considerable damage was done to the adjusting rooms and the refinery, while the heavy stone cornice on that side of the building was destroyed. The total loss to the Mint was later estimated at $15,000.
Late on Wednesday evening the fire front crept close up to Mechanics’ Pavilion, where a corps of fifty physicians and numerous nurses were active in the work of relief to the wounded. Ambulances and automobiles were busy unloading new patients rescued from the ruins when word came that the building would have to be vacated in haste. Every available vehicle was at once pressed into service and the patients removed as rapidly as possible, being taken to hospitals and private houses in the safer parts of the city. Hardly had the last of the injured been carried through the door when the roof was seen to be in a blaze, and shortly afterward the whole building burst into a whirlwind of flame.
At midnight the fire was raging and roaring with unslacked rage, and at dawn of Thursday its fury was undiminished. The work of destruction was already immense. In much of the Hayes Valley district, south of McAllister and north of Market Street, the destruction was complete. From the Mechanics’ Pavilion and St. Nicholas Hotel opposite down to Oakland Ferry the journey was heartrending, the scene appalling. On each side was ruin, nothing but ruin, and hillocks of masonry and heaps of rubbish of every description filled to its middle the city’s greatest thoroughfare.
Across an alley from the Post Office stood the Grant Building, one of the headquarters of the army. Of this only the smoke-darkened walls were left. On Market Street opposite this building the beautiful front of the Hibernian Savings Bank, the favorite institution of the middle and poorer classes, presented a hideous aspect of ruin. At eleven o’clock of Wednesday night the north side of Market Street stood untouched, and hopes were entertained that the great Flood, Crocker, Phelan and other buildings would be spared, but the hunger of the fire fiend was not yet satiated, and the following day these proud structures had only their blackened ruins to show. On both sides of Market Street, down to the ferry, the tale