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Great Fires: 1906 Great Earthquake & Fire

Hydrants With Water
San Francisco Fire Department
1906 Great Earthquake & Fire

MARKET & BEALE STREETS

April 18th

At Market and Beale Sts., Engine 1 obtained a little water for a short time, but nothing less than a dozen powerful streams could have stopped the fire that was in progress there.

From the report of 2nd Assistant Chief Shaughnessy

DAVIS & CALIFORNIA STREETS

April 18th

Engine 1 also obtained water from the hydrant at Davis and California Sts. and worked single-handed on a fire adjoining that corner for which, under ordinary conditions, a third alarm would have been sent in. In a short time this fire got beyond control and went to Market St. and the company was obliged to retire.

From the report of 2nd Assistant Chief Shaughnessy

DAVIS & CLAY STREETS

April 18th

Engine 12 obtained water for some time at the S. E. corner of Clay and Davis Sts., and worked on a fire at Davis and Washington Sts., but could not control it.

From the report of 2nd Assistant Chief Shaughnessy

FIFTH & MARKET STREETS

April 18th

Several large fires were burning in different sections of the city and we proceeded to Fifth and Market sts. [sic], where we attached our hose to the hydrant and led two streams to the buildings on Fifth st., opposite the Mint. We made a stand in the rear of the Lincoln School building, and endeavored to check the flames which were burning at that time in the rear of the Emporium; we found our apparatus inadequate to cope with fires of this magnitude, and were forced to withdraw.   

From the report of Captain Russell, Engine Co. No. 27, 613 Hermann Street, 1897 LaFrance, 3rd-size, 600 GPM

GEARY & HYDE STREETS

April 19th

…ordered by Chief Shaughnessy to Geary and Hyde Sts., taking the hydrant on the N/E cor. In company with engine 23 we worked in this neighborhood until instructed to leave by Chief Dolan at about 2 P. M. April 19th.

From the report of Captain Allen, Engine Co. No. 34, 1119 Ellis Street, 1901 American Metropolitan 2nd-size, Double, 700 GPM

EDDY & MARKET STREETS

April 18th

Our company next located at the corner of Eddy and Market sts. [sic], where the engine was connected to the hydrant, and two streams played on the buildings on the north side of Market st., until the fire on the south side had burned out. While fighting the fire in this district, the U. S. soldiers rendered us great assistance, and were instrumental saving our apparatus at times.

From the report of Captain Russell, Engine Co. No. 27, 613 Hermann Street, 1897 LaFrance, 3rd-size, 600 GPM

EDDY STREET & VAN NESS AVENUE

April 19th, 3:00 am

Acting again on orders received from Battalion Chief, M. O'Brien, we left this point (Sacramento and Powell Streets) and at that hour (3 A. M. April 19th) and proceeded to Eddy Street and Van Ness Avenue, arriving there at about 3.30 A. M. the same morning, and secured a supply of water from the hydrant located at that corner. We led a line of hose down Van Ness Ave. to Turk Street, thence down Turk Street to Larkin Street, and with a good supply of water we worked in that neighborhood until midnight of the 19th, of April, at which time it was extinguished.

From the report of Captain Brown, Engine Co. No. 2, 22 O'Farrell Street, 1904 Clapp & Jones 2nd-size , double, 700 GPM

A good supply of water was obtained from hydrant at the S. W. corner of Eddy and Van Ness Ave.

From the report of 2nd Assistant Chief Shaughnessy

EDDY & FRANKLIN STREETS

April 18th

Chief Maxwell ordered us to locate a hydrant in the vicinity of Golden Gate ave., & Van Ness; the fire at this time was burning from Grove St., north, and the nearest hydrant of service was at Eddy and Franklin sts., five blocks distance. The engine was connected at this point, and with the aid of engine 15, we doubled up, using a hose seven hundred feet long reaching to Grove and Franklin sts., we were forced to abandon this position, however, owing to rapid progress of the fire, and the civil authorities who were dynamiting in this district.

From the report of Captain Russell, Engine Co. No. 27, 613 Hermann Street, 1897 LaFrance, 3rd-size, 600 GPM

EDDY & GOUGH STREETS

April 19th (early in the morning)

Our next move was to Hayes Valley where we reported to Chief Dougherty who sent us to Laguna & Oak Sts., but finding three engines in line from that hydrant we searched the neighborhood for water but were unable to obtain any. Battalion Chief Dolan directed us to the corner of Gough and Eddy Sts., and in connection with Engine Company #24, we led a line to the corner of Gough & Grove Sts., fighting the fire at that point under command of Battalion Maxwell. We fought the fire in this vicinity for sixteen hours finally saving the corner of Gough & Golden Gate Ave.

From the report of Captain Daniel Newell, Engine Co. No. 13, 1458 Valencia Street, 1890 LaFrance, 3rd-size, double, 600 GPM

EDDY & BUCHANAN STREETS

April 18th

At the fire at Golden Gate Ave. and Buchanan Sts., shortly afterwards, the nearest water obtainable was from the two hydrants at Buchanan and Eddy Sts, by means of which the fire was extinguished.

From the report of 2nd Assistant Chief Shaughnessy

This fire was prevented from crossing Golden Gate Ave. by streams lead from Hydrants on Eddy St., where there was water. It was also stopped at Octavia St. by streams from Buchanan St, and it was prevented from crossing Dolores St. by volunteers, by means of buckets of water and sacks.

From the report of 2nd Assistant Chief Shaughnessy

ELLIS STREET & VAN NESS AVENUE

April 19th        

…we were ordered to Van Ness and Ellis Sts., and took the hydrant on the N/W cor where we remained for a couple of hours.

From the report of Captain Allen, Engine Co. No. 34, 1119 Ellis Street, 1901 American Metropolitan 2nd-size, Double, 700 GPM

Under orders from Chief Shaughnessy we again located at Van Ness & Ellis Sts., and in company with engine 23 back-fired all the buildings (in the rear) on the east side of Van Ness between Ellis and Geary, working there until the afternoon of April 19th.

From the report of Captain Allen, Engine Co. No. 34, 1119 Ellis Street, 1901 American Metropolitan 2nd-size, Double, 700 GPM

April 19th, Midnight

Engine Company #2 then proceeded to Franklin and Geary Streets, where it was supplied with water pumped from Engine Company #34, stationed at Ellis Street and Van Ness Avenue. My company led a line of hose to Bush and Franklin Streets where we worked, under Assistant Chief John Wells, until 6 A. M. April 20th, at which time the fire was subdued at that point.

From the report of Captain Brown, Engine Co. No. 2, 22 O'Farrell Street

The stream from Ellis and Van Ness Ave. was able to reach as far as Geary St., and from there north to California St.

From the report of 2nd Assistant Chief Shaughnessy

By the greatest exertion enough hose was brought up from the lower end of Van Ness Ave. and a stream obtained from the hydrant at Ellis and Van Ness Ave., with three engines in line, thus finally checking the fire at Sutter St.

From the report of 2nd Assistant Chief Shaughnessy

A good supply of water was obtained from hydrant at the N. W. corner of Ellis and Van Ness Ave. but from Ellis north to Jackson there were no hydrants on the west side of Van Ness Ave.

From the report of 2nd Assistant Chief Shaughnessy

ELLIS & FRANKLIN STREETS

April 18th 

Afterwards I changed my location to the North-west corner of Franklin & Ellis Sts., and worked my stream half-way between Geary and Post Sts., in company with Engine #23, until it was brought under control and checked.

From the report of Captain Fay, Engine Co. No. 22,1348 10th Avenue, 1893 LaFrance, 4th-size, double, 500 GPM, Reg. #270

HAYES & BUCHANAN STREETS

April 18th (early in the morning)

At the fire at the northwest corner of Hayes and Laguna Sts., also immediately after the earthquake, the water in the hydrant at that corner gave out after a few minutes, but a good supply was obtained at the corner of Bauchanan [sic] and Hayes Sts.

From the report of 2nd Assistant Chief Shaughnessy

At the fire at Fulton and Octavia a little water was obtained from the hydrant at Fulton and Laguna Sts., which gave out within minutes, but the fire was put out by a stream lead from Buchanan and Hayes Sts., by putting three engines in one line.

From the report of 2nd Assistant Chief Shaughnessy

We arrived here at 5.25 A. M. but were unable to obtain any water from the hydrants in this immediate vicinity, therefore it took us fully four hours to extinguish this fire; where under ordinary circumstances one half hour's work would have sufficed. After a long search a hydrant (at Hayes & Buchanan Sts.) was found emitting water four blocks away from the scene of the conflagration, and then began the task of pumping water a distance of 3200 feet. This was done by stationing an engine at the hydrant which pumped through eight hundred feet of hose; here another engine forced the water through another eight hundred feet, and so on until three engines in tandem were busily engaged. With the aid of Engines No. 14, 21 and 34 both fires were extinguished.

From the report of Captain Boden, Engine Co. No. 21, 1152 Oak Street, 1891 Clapp & Jones 3rd-size, double, 600 GPM

OAK & WEBSTER STREETS

April 18th (in the morning)

We obtained some water at Oak and Webster Sts. (six blocks away) and by running a line of hose through three engines, were able to use one small stream with very little effect. We were forced to leave this neighborhood, as the dynamiting crew were starting operations on Hayes St., opposite the St. Ignatius church. By connecting engines #21-34-14-19-7 I obtained two streams, and checked the fire from spreading further west than Octavia Sts.

From the report of Chief Waters, District No. 7

BUSH & LAGUNA STREETS

April 19th        

…companies were still working south of Geary St. It was found that the nearest hydrant from which water could be obtained was at Bush and Laguna Sts., and in order to reach the fire on California St., four engines had to be put in line. By the time this was done, the fire had crossed Sacramento and California Sts. and was burning up to Franklin St. in three blocks; when it was almost checked there, fire suddenly broke out in Kelly's stable on the south side of Pine St. near Franklin, and on account of the large frame buildings on the west side of Franklin St. there was great danger that the fire would cross that street and get beyond control.

From the report of 2nd Assistant Chief Shaughnessy

GREEN & GOUGH STREETS       

Meanwhile the fire was spreading north unchecked on the east side of Van Ness Ave. until it reached Vallejo St., where Engine 3, securing water from the hydrant at Green and Gough Sts., and pumping to Engine 20, fought the fire back to Polk St., only to lose itswater [sic] at a critical time and be forced to move to Union and Gough.

From the report of 2nd Assistant Chief Shaughnessy

14TH & FOLSOM STREETS

WEST SIDE OF FOLSOM STREET, between Fourteenth & Fifteenth Sts.

April 19th

After they had dynamited five buildings in that vicinity, we connected to the hydrant on the South-west corner of Fourteenth and Folsom Sts., but on account of the fierceness of the fire then raging in the buildings which had been dynamited we were compelled to retreat to the hydrant in the middle of the block on the West side of Folsom St., between fourteenth & Fifteenth Sts. From this hydrant we led off two streams; one leading across Folsom to the yards of Woerner's Cooperage on the South side of Folsom St. With this stream we were able to stop the fire entirely at that point, saving the Cooperage Co. With the other stream we were able to check the fire on Folsom St. about 150 feet South of Fourteenth St. This was at about three P. M. April 19th, 1906. We then reported to Chief Conlon at Seventeenth & Howard Sts.

From the report of Captain Radford, Engine Co. No. 25, 2547 Folsom Street, 1895 Amoskeag 2nd-size, Double, 700 GPM, Reg. #716

15TH & VALENCIA STREETS

April 19th, at about 4 A. M

On April 19th, at about 4 A. M. we were ordered to Fifteenth & Shotwell Sts., reporting to Battalion Chief McKittrick. We were able to save the East side of Shotwell St., north of Fifteenth St. and worked in this vicinity until three P. M. of April 19th, 1906. Finding water at Fifteenth & Valencia Sts., we led down to Mission St., fighting the fire at that point, but finding the pressure inadequate we removed to Eighteenth & Howard Sts., connecting with a broken main.

From the report of Captain Daniel Newell, Engine Co. No. 13, 1458 Valencia Street, 1890 LaFrance, 3rd-size, double, 600 GPM

22ND & VALENCIA STREETS

April 18th (in the morning)

At the fire which destroyed the buildings at the northwest corner of Mission and Twenty-second streets immediately after the earthquake, there was no water to be had east of valencia [sic] Street, but the double hydrants at the northwest corner of Twenty-second and Valencia and the southwest corner of Valencia and 21st St. furnished an abundant supply.

From the report of 2nd Assistant Chief Shaughnessy

We responded to a still alarm at 22nd & Mission Sts. Arriving there we found Lippman's Drygoods Store on fire, and took the hydrant on the corner of Bartlett & 22nd Sts., but could get no water; therefore we canvassed the neighborhood testing all hydrants but were not successful in obtaining water until we reached Valencia & 22nd Sts. We worked under directions of Battalion Chief McKittrick and with the aid of other Companies were able to extinguish this fire at 12 M, April 18th, 1906.

From the report of Captain Daniel Newell, Engine Co. No. 13, 1458 Valencia Street, 1890 LaFrance, 3rd-size, double, 600 GPM

23RD & VALENCIA STREETS

April 18th, 5:35 am

…being informed that the North-west corner of Twenty-second & Mission Sts., was on fire we immediately responded (about 5.35 A. M.) but on arriving at Mission St., we could find no water in the hydrants, so went to the South-west corner of Twenty-third & Valencia Sts. where we obtained water. We led a second line from Engine No. 13, stationed at the North-west corner of Twenty-second & Valencia Sts., and attacked the fire from the West side.

From the report of Captain Radford, Engine Co. No. 25, 2547 Folsom Street, 1895 Amoskeag 2nd-size, Double, 700 GPM, Reg. #716

23RD & HARRISON STREETS

April 18th, (immediately after the earthquake)

Immediately after the earthquake at 5.15 A. M. on April 18th, 1906, our Company was summoned by a messenger to a small fire in the upper flat of 2625-1/2 Harrison St. We took the hydrant on the South-west corner of Twenty-second & Harrison Sts., but finding no water we changed the hose to the hydrant at the North-west corner of Twenty-third & Harrison Sts., where we found water. This fire was extinguished.

From the report of Captain Radford, Engine Co. No. 25, 2547 Folsom Street, 1895 Amoskeag 2nd-size, Double, 700 GPM, Reg. #716

HILL & VALENCIA STREETS

April 18th (afternoon)

Our Engine took station at the hydrant corner of Hill & Valencia Sts., and furnished Engine No. 18 with water. The Company stayed at this fire until about 11 P. M. April 18th, we being the last to leave.

From the report of Captain Radford, Engine Co. No. 25, 2547 Folsom Street, 1895 Amoskeag 2nd-size, Double, 700 GPM, Reg. #716

20TH & CHURCH STREETS – “THE LITTLE GIANT” – “THE GOLD HYDRANT”

April 19th

After a consultation between Batt. Chiefs McKittrick and Conlon, I left for 20th and Church Sts., with a wagon load of hose. I found water at this point, and also at 21st and Dolores Sts. I then returned for two more loads of hose, and in connection with Engines #27 & #19 we had sufficient hose to fight the fire down the north side of 20th. St., to Mission St., where the fire was extinguished on the morning of April 20th. at about 10 A. M.   Due to the fact that we were able to obtain a supply of water we were able to stop the fire from crossing 20th St., and destroying the complete Mission district.

From the report of Captain A. Welch, Engine Co. No. 7, 3160 16th Street, 1890 LaFrance, 3rd-size, double, 600 GPM

April 19th, (after 3:00 pm)

We next endeavored to obtain water at Church & Twentieth Sts., but finding other Companies in line at this point, we assisted in this vicinity  until the fire was extinguished on Twentieth St. We were finally ordered to our quarters at 11 A. M. April 20th, 1906, having been in duty 53 hours.

From the report of Captain Daniel Newell, Engine Co. No. 13, 1458 Valencia Street, 1890 LaFrance, 3rd-size, double, 600 GPM

Engine #27 was ordered to 20th and Dolores Sts., as I understood there was water there. Engine #27 was moved to 17th and Howard St. late Thursday afternoon. Engines #19-27-26 & 21 made their last stand at Dolores and 20th Sts.

From the report of Chief Waters, District No. 7

We were next ordered to Twentieth and Dolores, where we reported to Batt. Chief Maxwell, who instructed us to attach to a line led from Twentieth and Castro sts.  With the aid of Engine 19, we led two streams down Twentieth and worked from Dolores to Mission st.  Good service was rendered in this vicinity and by 9 a. m. Friday April 20th, we were ordered back to quarters by Batt. Chief Waters. 

From the report of Captain Russell, Engine Co. No. 27, 613 Hermann Street, 1897 LaFrance, 3rd-size, 600 GPM

Under Chief Waters we assisted Engines No. 21, 7, 19 and 27 in the neighborhood of Market & Valencia Sts., and then proceeded under Captain Dryer, and aided Engines 27 and 19 at Church & Twentieth Sts.

From the report of Captain Dryer, Truck Co. No. 6, 1152 Oak Street

The fire which started at Hayes and Gough, several hours after the earthquake, got beyond control by reason of there being no water available within reach, and it swept over the Western Addition east of Octavia and south of Golden Gate Ave.; corssed [sic] over Market St. near Ninth, and burned out into the Mission, until finally stopped at Twentieth St. by the aid of the cistern at 19th and Shotwell Sts. and one hydrant at Church and Twentieth Sts.,

From the report of 2nd Assistant Chief Shaughnessy

21ST & DOLORES STREETS

April 19th

After a consultation between Batt. Chiefs McKittrick and Conlon I left for 20th and Church Sts., with a wagon load of hose. I found water at this point, and also at 21st and Dolores Sts. I then returned for two more loads of hose, and in connection with engines #27 & 19 we had sufficient hose to fight the fire down the north side of 20th. St., to Mission St., where the fire was extinguished on the morning of April 20th. at about 10 A. M. 

From the report of Captain A. Welch, Engine Co. No. 7, 3160 16th Street, 1890 LaFrance, 3rd-size, double, 600 GPM 

Hydrants With Small Amounts of Water

SACRAMENTO & POWELL STREET

April 18th, 5:00 pm to 3;00 am, April 19th

Under orders issued by M. O'Brien, Battalion Chief, we proceeded to Sacramento and Powell Streets, where we discovered a hydrant containing a small supply of water and led a line from Engine #2 down the hill to Engine Company #28 stationed at Sacramento and Dupont Streets. The members of my Company, in conjunction with the members of said Engine Company #28, led a line and worked on the fire which was raging along Kearny St., having a fair supply until 3 A. M. the morning of April 19th, at which time the water supply became exhausted.

From the report of Captain Brown, Engine Co. No. 2, 22 O'Farrell Street. 1904 Clapp & Jones 2nd-size , double, 700 GPM

POWELL & CALIFORNIA STREETS
POWELL & CLAY STREETS

April 18th

…the fire was still advancing, these companies went up to Powell St. and obtained water for some time from the hydrants at Powell and California, Powell and Sacramento and Powell and Clay sts. After a while these hydrants ran dry and the companies were forced to retire.

From the report of 2nd Assistant Chief Shaughnessy

GOUGH & BUSH STREETS

April 19th

After this we returned to Van Ness Ave., in search of a hydrant with sufficient pressure, but were unable to find one; the greatest pressure obtained was at Bush and Gough sts., and this was only twenty pounds.

From the report of Captain Russell, Engine Co. No. 27, 613 Hermann Street, 1897 LaFrance, 3rd-size, 600 GPM

GOUGH & GREEN STREETS

April 20th

Meanwhile the fire was spreading north unchecked on the east side of Van Ness Ave. until it reached Vallejo St., where Engine 3, securing water from the hydrant at Green and Gough sts., and pumping to Engine 20, fought the fire back to Polk St., only to lose itswater [sic] at a critical time and be forced to move to Union and Gough.

From the report of 2nd Assistant Chief Shaughnessy

GOUGH & UNION STREETS

April 20th

While this was going on a line was lead from a U. S. Government boat at the foot of Van Ness Ave. up to Green and Van Ness Ave., with two engines in between, but did not prove effective for a while, and the fire caught several houses on the west side of Van Ness Ave. near Green St. just the time when the hydrant at Gough and Green Sts. gave out. When water was obtained at Union and Gough Sts., however, these houses were saved and the danger was over when this hydrant also gave out. After that another stream was lead from the boat and the fire was stopped at Union and Van Ness Ave.

From the report of 2nd Assistant Chief Shaughnessy

June 1, 1905 - HYDRANTS IN SERVICE - 4,211

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