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Great Fires: 1906 Great Earthquake & Fire

Reports of Fire Officers
San Francisco Fire Department
1906 Great Earthquake & Fire
Captain S. D. Russell
Engine Co. No. 27, 52 Waller Street
Apparatus: 1897 LaFrance 3rd size, steam engine, 600 GPM

From the effects of the earthquake which occured [sic] on the morning of April 18th, 1906, we found that our engine had been disconnected from the heater, and had rolled about four feet ahead. 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. Our company then proceeded to Haight and Buchanan sts. [sic], where we tested the fire alarm box and fount [sic] it out of service; as we could see smoke arrising [sic], we left at once for Buchanan and Golden Gate Ave., where a fire was burning on the north west corner. We could find no water in the hydrants in this immediate vicinity, and not until we had stretched our hose seven hundred feet to the corner of Eddy and Buchanan sts. [sic], were we able to obtain a stream. By the aid of engines 34 and 15 we doubled up our lines and were able to extinguish this fire.

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.

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. 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. [sic], 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. [sic], 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. The final stand was made at Golden Gate Ave., and with the aid of Engine 15, we saved the two blocks on the North side of Golden Gate Ave., from Van Ness to Gough, and while in this vicinity we acted under the directions of Second Assistant Chief Shaughnessy, and Batt. Chief Maxwell.

Wednesday night at 8 p. m. the men were ordered to proceed to Polk and Golden Gate Ave. where the fire had crossed to the North side, and was then working its way North to Turk St. We attached the end of our line to a line led in by Engine 14, which was stationed at O'Farrell and Leavenworth Sts., and tried to prevent the fire from crossing to the North side of Eddy St., near Jones. For awhile we held this position but at 8 a. m. on the morning of Thursday April 19th, we were driven from this place by the fire, and through orders from Chief Maxwell located at Van Ness and Geary.

About 10 a. m. a large fire sprung up on Larkin st., between Post and Sutter Sts; we then took a hydrant on the corner of Post and Larkin sts. [sic], but our supply of water gave out very shortly, and we moved to Bush and Polk sts. [sic], with the same results. 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. [sic], and this was only twenty pounds.

Having been ordered by Chief Shaughnessy to go to work where ever we could, and having been informed that water could be found in the vicinity of Market and Hermann sts. [sic], we reported to Batt. Chief Waters who was in charge of that district. By doubling up with Engine 36, we led our line to Duboce Ave., and Guerrero St., and saved the N. E. Cor. of these streets. Our line was now extended to Clinton Park, and we saved a section of this district, and the fire was extinguished in this vicinity at about 10:30 p. m. on April 19th.

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 [sic].

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.

Captain S. D. Russell
Captain Engine 27.
Lieu't L. J. O'Neil
Engineer E. P. Brennan
Driver C. S. Brant
Stoker J. Stevens
Hoseman G. Bunner
Hoseman Wm. Siewert
Hoseman J. Conroy
Hoseman A. C. Butt