The San Francisco calamity by earthquake and fire eBook

Charles W. Morris
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 432 pages of information about The San Francisco calamity by earthquake and fire.

While the soldiers under General Funston took military charge of the city, squads of cavalry and troops of infantry patrolling the streets and guarding the sections that had not yet been touched by the flames, Mayor Schmitz and Chief of Police Dinan sprang into the breach and prepared to make a desperate charge against the platoons of the fire.  This was not all that was needed to be done.  From the “Barbary Coast,” as the resort of the vicious and criminal classes was called, hordes of wretches poured out as soon as night fell, seeking to slip through the guards and loot stores and rob the dead in the burning section.  Orders were given to the soldiers to kill all who were engaged in such work, and these orders were carried out.  An associated Press reporter saw three of these thieves shot and fatally wounded, and doubtless others of them were similarly dealt with elsewhere.

A band of fire-fighters was quickly organized by the Mayor and Chief of Police, and the devoted firemen put themselves in the face of the flames, determined to do their utmost to stay them in their course.  Cut off from the use of their accustomed engines and water streams, which might have been effective if brought into play at the beginning of the struggle, there was nothing to work with but the dynamite cartridge and the gunpowder mine, and they set bravely to work to do what they could with these.  On every side the roar of explosions could be heard, and the crash of falling walls came to the ear, while people were forced to leave buildings which still stood, but which it was decided must be felled.  Frequently a crash of stone and brick, followed by a cloud of dust, gave warning to pedestrians that destruction was going on in the forefront of the flames, and that travel in such localities was unsafe.


All through the night of Wednesday and the morning of Thursday this work went on, hopelessly but resolutely.  During the following day blasts could be heard in different sections at intervals of a few minutes, and buildings not destroyed by fire were blown to atoms, but over the gaps jumped the live flames, and the disheartened fire-fighters were driven back step by step; but they continued the work with little regard for their own safety and with unflinching desperation.

One instance of the peril they ran may be given.  Lieutenant Charles O. Pulis, commanding the Twenty-fourth Company of Light Artillery, had placed a heavy charge of dynamite in a building at Sixth and Jesse Streets.  For some reason it did not explode, and he returned to relight the fuse, thinking it had become extinguished.  While he was in the building the explosion took place, and he received injuries that seemed likely to prove fatal, his skull being fractured and several bones broken, while he was injured internally.  In the early morning, when the fire reached the municipal building on Portsmouth Square, the nurses, with the

Project Gutenberg
The San Francisco calamity by earthquake and fire from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
Follow Us on Facebook