Fire Figures

Tuesday, April 11, 1871

City Fire Marshal Robert A. Williams submits his annual report.  The number of fires in the past year exceeds that of any previous year since the formation of the paid department in 1858.  Well over 600 fires have destroyed almost $2,500,000 in property, an increase of more than $1,500,000 over the previous twelve months.  The biggest blaze, which burned the Drake, Farwell, and Thatcher Block (on Washington Street east of State Street) the past September, incurred damages of over $1,300,000 and claimed five lives.  In his review of the department’s equipment, Williams states that the oldest engine has been in service for ten years.  Since the last report the department has purchased 10,500 feet of hose and added 16 horses (for a total of 88).  By far the largest cause of fire has been carelessness, with defective chimneys and suspected arson following far behind.