Friday, April 18, 2008

San Francisco Earthquake and Fire

It was on this day, April 18, in the year 1906 that a major 7.8 earthquake hit San Francisco. The event led to a "Perfect Storm" of a disaster. The earthquake destroyed a large number of buildings in the city. The earthquake also broke natural gas lines, which led to fires which burned for four days. The quake also broke water lines, which made fighting the fire almost impossible. In a desperate attempt to control the fire, the fire department began dynamiting buildings in an attempt to create a fire line. This action actually started more fires. Looters moved in, and orders were issued to shoot looters on sight. Some 500 looters were shot. Desperate citizens started campfires in the streets, and some of those sparked additional fires. In the end, it is estimated that 80% of the city was destroyed, thousands of people died, and about a quarter million people were left homeless.
It is sort of eerie to think how normal the day started. People were going about their business without a clue that their entire life was about to be turned upside down. It just reminds me of how important it is to cherish every day.


  1. That all sounds incredible. What a disaster.

  2. My great grandfather was 14 years old, living on Powell Street in San Francisco when the earthquake hit. He and his entire family survived. We have his account written down before he passed away in 1974


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