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Great Fires: 1906 Great Earthquake & Fire

Known Rescues By Members of the Department
San Francisco Fire Department
1906 Great Earthquake and Fire

April 18th - The First Rescue

On the 18th inst.m at 5, 13 A. M. our quarters were carried down by the dome of the California Hotel; All hands were in bed at the time except Hoseman Maroney who was watch at that time. The roof and third and second floor came down through the apparatus floor to the cellar. Apparatus floor resting on coal pile; Third floor occupied by the late Chief and his wife; Second floor occupied by Chemical Crew and Operators; All went for the stairs except John Coyne who fell through the coal hole. When the crash ceased we started at once to dig for the Chief and Mrs. Sullivan, assisted by the "Bulletin" employees and J. O'brien [sic], Police Officers Berg, Welsh, Farrell and Tutenberg.  While so digging the Chief walked from the rear of the pile. P. Gallagher and Jerry Collins, Chief's Operator, assisted him into the St. George Stables. Chief's Operator drove him away at once to the Hospital. Mrs. Sullivan was taken out shortly afterwards and we carried her into the California Hotel where a Doctor took charge of her.

From the report of Chief Cook, District  No. 2, 412 Bush Street

L. Balletto, Hoseman No. 2 Engine stated that on the morning of April 18th, no alarms were received at his station. He was ordered to report immediately at Bush & Kearny Sts., and there helped to remove Fire Chief Sullivan who was badly injured owing to the collapsing of one of the walls of an adjoining building.

From the report of Captain J. R. Mitchell, Chemical Co. No. 3, 412 Bush Street

April 18th (early in the morning)

At that time I was requested by someone in the Hotel to try and save Doctor Stinson who was buried in his room on the 8th floor. I with P. Gallagher and John Coyne went at once to the 8th floor where we found that his room was full of bricks and the floor badly caved in from the heavy weight. Thinking that he might be alive we dug for him and found him but he was dead.

From the report of Chief Cook, District No. 2, 412 Bush Street

April 18th (early in the morning)

Our first rescue was on both sides of the Engine House. At #313 Sixth St., the place was completely wrecked and the barefoot of a child could be seen in a pile of debris. We cut our way into the premises with axes and shortly afterwards rescued three little children and five adults; at 309 Sixth St., the house was still standing but seemed to be in a dangerous condition, having partly caved in. The tenants consisting of three men, two women and three children were also rescued by my men.

From the report of Captain Cullen, Engine Co. No. 6, 311 6th Street, 22 O'Farrell Street

April 18th (early in the morning)

Our next move was to Ellis and Polk sts. [sic], where we rescued an old lady from a building, where she had been pinioned. 

From the report of Captain Nichols, Truck Co. No. 4, 1616 Pacific Avenue

April 18th (early in the morning)

As the fire alarms and telephone service in our station, at 1152 Oak Street, were put out of order by the earthquake, and as we could see large columns of smoke arising, in the direction of Hayes Valley, we left at once for that vicinity. At Fillmore and Oak Streets, we stopped to release a lady and two children from their home.

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

April 18th (earlyin the morning)

Immediately after the earthquake which occured [sic] at 5:15 a. m. April 18th we left our quarters and rescued a woman from the ruins of a house at Howard and Erie Sts. There were also a couple parties killed in this place through the effects of the earthquake.

From the report of Captain Carew, Truck Co. No. 7, 2547 Folsom Street  

April 18th (later in the morning)

Our next move was to the Valencia Hotel, on Valencia and Seventeenth streets, where we aided in extracting the dead and wounded from the ruins of this hotel; a number of persons were killed in this hostelry from effects of the earthquake and it was with great difficulty that a number of the wounded and dead were extricated.

From the report of Captain Carew, Truck Co. No. 7, 2547 Folsom Street  

April 18th (later in the morning)

Folsom and Clementina Sts., At this time my crew helped rescue a man and woman from the Corona House, approximately forty people were killed by the collapsing of this hotel. The two survivors   rescued were pinned on the top floor near a sky-light. Our crew after chopping away the debris were able to remove these people from the ruins.

From the report of Captain Cullen, Engine Co. No. 6, 311 6th Street

April 18th (later in the morning)

Along Folsom St., no more water could be obtained so we started in life saving by carrying people out of houses to places of safety.

From the report of Captain Cullen, Engine Co. No. 6, 311 6th Street

VALENCIA HOTEL
April 18th (in the morning)

We afterwards assisted in extricating the dead from the Valencia Hotel ruins, and were able to remove eight bodies. Later in the day we again left for Hayes Valley, and then returned to 17th and Howard Sts., where we assisted in pumping water from the broken water main at that point. The company then worked up Howard st., from 15th to above 18th St., under orders of Batt. Chiefs McKittrick, Conlon and Waters.

From the report of Captain Welch, Engine Co. No. 7, 3160 16th Street  

April 18th (later in the morning)

We then proceeded to Geary & Stockton Streets, where we were confronted with a most heartrending sight. A large dwelling building had fallen by reason of the earthquake and an incipient blaze was in progress. We immediately proceeded to work and extinguished it. A number of men and women were pinned under the ruins, and the members of my Company started the work of rescuing these unfortunate people, the acts of heroism displayed by them receiving the applause and other marks of approbation of a large gathering of citizens and the residents of that neighborhood. In carrying out one of the unfortunate victims of this house, a stairway gave out under our combined weight and I sustained as a result of the consequent fall a dislocation of the small bones in the heel of my right foot and a badly sprained ankle. After seeing to it that the fire was entirely subdued in this building, I called upon the Police and the citizens standing about to take up the work of rescue. Seeing that they had the matter well in hand we left this place. It might be well to say that we were unable to procure any water with which to fight the fire above mentioned in this neighborhood.

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

April 18th  (early in the morning)

Immediately after the earthquake which visited this city on April 18th 1906, our company was called to the corner of Third ave., and Clement St. We put out a small fire back of a store, and then proceeded to a house nearby which had been shaken off its foundation; after inspecting it to see if anyone was hurt, we shut off the gas in the street, and went to answer a call at California St., near Third Ave. Arriving there we found that a chimney had collapsed from effects of the earthquake, and had buried a man; by cutting away part of the floor and removing the debris we were able to extricate him, after which we placed him under a doctors care.

From the report of Captain Conniff, Engine Co. No. 26, 327 2nd Avenue

April 18th  (early in the morning)

By still alarm we were informed that a two story house, located at the corner of Germania and Steiner sts. [sic], had collapsed, and we proceeded immediately to that point. Here we aided in extricating the eleven inmates who were pinioned in the wreckage.

From the report of Captain Russell, Engine Co. No. 27, 613 Hermann Street

April 18th  (early in the morning)

We received word that a building situated on 9th St., between Bryant and Brannan Sts., had also been shaken down and on our arrival we rescued a family by the name of O'Toole. His wife was buried under the debris and we could not remove her. Proceeding then to 11th and Folsom Sts., we endeavored to remove three women killed in a house adjoining the Jackson Brewery and could render no assistance as these people were buried under such a mass of debris that it would have taken considerable time and as much a larger crew.

From the report of Captain T J Murphy, Engine Co. No. 29, 1305 Bryant Street

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