to gambling debts. The fire heralded by these cries proved to be a
first-class fire. It started betwen Clay and Sacramento streets, the
section occupied by merchants dealing in wines and lumber.
wine merchants I mean merchants selling both wines and liquors. Fanned
by a vigorous north breeze the fire spread rapidly, affording from the
heights from which we watched it spread a magnificent spectacle.
Alcohol and wood-yards, what more could the most fastidious fire
each fresh supply of rum, brandy, or spirituous liquors that the fire
touched, its intensity was redoubled; simultaneously the flames changed
color. This might have been aptly termed a magnificent illumination of
Bengal fires, with its reds, blues, and yellows. This was intensified
by the American habit of handling fires by hurlng tons of powder on the
flames in the belief that the house by falling, will check this
monster. The house in fact collapses, but almost invariably its
flaming embers fall over across the street, setting fire to those
located on the opposite side which, being built of wood and already hot
from the proximity of the flames, catch fire like so many matches.
the present time, wooden pavements have been laid for greater
convenience and consequently when fire starts nothing can stop it;
moreover with rare intelligence aa fire invariably starts just when the
water supply is especially low, and since the city is always short of
water even for drinking purposes, the fire moves ahead without fear of
being checked in its mad progress.
owing to this water shortage, for the consolation of those who have
fires there is a corps of well-organized firemen who at a given signal
rush over with splendid pumps to the scene of the disaster. These pumps
are absolutely empty, but they can pump air, and this usually has a
tendency to fan the flames.
reluctant to say that these fires are caused deliberately, yet right in
the city of San Francisco there are so many men who are interested in
having San Francisco burn down that a certain amount of suspicion is
inevitable. For instance, on that day wine merchants and lumber
merchants were wiped out by fire. While this fire may have ruined its
immediate victims, yet it enriched dealers in lumber and wines in other
sections of the city, not to mention the owners, proprietors, and
consignees of vessels that were waiting to