Guardians of The City SFFD Home Page - San Francisco Fire Department Museum SFFD HomeBack to GuardiansofTheCity.org Home Page
Notable Fires:

Collision Of No. 6 and No. 12
Incidents Of The San Francisco Fire.

June 15, 1855

The Evening News gives the subjoined account of a collision between two fire engines at the recent fire at the Bay City :

As Monumental Company Co. 6; was rushing to the fire with their beautiful engine, (1854 John Rogers, first class, double deck) the member who had charge of the brake caught his foot in a crack on the street, and was thrown down. This left the engine free of all check, and as Pennsylvania Company No. 12 (1855 John Agnew, a magnificent first class double deck engine) was just ahead, it soon became evident that a collision must occur. It was impossible to stop the Monumental engine, but owing to the presence of mind of the member who held the tongue, a great deal of mischief was prevented. Mr. Jamison, the gentleman last alluded to, wheeled the tongue out, and thus impeded the progress of the engine somewhat but not sufficiently to prevent the wheel of the Pennsylvania engine from being store in, and the iron lever of the Monumentals from being broken. The damage done to the former engine is of such a nature that it will not be serviceable for a week or so; the Monumentals sent their lever oil" immediately, and the damage to their machine will be repaired in a day or two. Two members, Mr. Garvin, of the Pennsylvania, and Mr. Hines, of the Monumentals, were injured, the latter having his foot severely bruised.

The Alta has the following further incidents:

A Mexican, named Ferare, was shot in the side of the head by a pistol, which is said to have been fired off by the weapon being heated by the fire.

Stockton street, between Jackson and Washington, was a curious scene of fugitives from the burning buildings. Beds, bedding, bottles, chairs, cradles, tables, and all the implements of house keeping were piled promiscuously along the sidewalk — their homeless owners engaged in separating their property and making arrangements for future lodgings.

A great mob was created in Jackson street by the announcement that some buildings were about to be blown up. It proved to be a false alarm, however, and the crowd quickly returned to view the operations of the firemen.

Two men were arrested for stealing, but were subsequently released.

The night was dark, and the reflected light of the flames cast a lurid glare over the city, causing many residents of the outskirts to hurry into town under the impression that a repetition of the old style of fires was taking place.

A member of the Lafayette Hook and Ladder Company says that, as the flames took hold of one of the small wooden buildings in St. Louis alley the screams of some women were heard inside and several members rushing in, they found a number of “Mexicans in undress." fighting over the possession of a piece of property. Some of them had just got out of bed, and were attended by companions of the other sex, who were making the best of their way from the building. The character of the residents of some of the buildings was such as to bring to light some very extraordinary scenes.

Origin of the Fire.— It is stated that for an hour previous to the breaking out of the flames there had been heard a variety of disgraceful sound issuing from the small wooden house where the fire originated, and it was about half an hour after this that the alarm was given. It appears that Mexican woman, named Elenora, had been out on a visit to one of her neighbors, and returning, placed the candle near the bed as she was undressing. The flames communicated with the bed hangings and spread so rapidly that she had scarcely time to escape from the room when the house was in flames. This house is said to have been notoriously noisy.

Source: Sacramento Daily Union, Volume 9, Number 1318, 15 June 1855 — Incidents of the San Francisco Fire. [ARTICLE]

Extracted from original sources with grammar and spelling as published.