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

Great Fires: 1906 Great Earthquake & Fire

Reports of Fire Officers
San Francisco Fire Department
1906 Great Earthquake & Fire
Captain M. Boden
Engine Co. No. 21, 1152 Oak Street
Apparatus: 1891 Clapp & Jones, 2nd size, steam engine, 700 GPM

As no alarms or telephones were in order immediately after the earthquake, which visited this city on April 18th, 1906, we proceeded from our station (located on Oak St. near Broderick St.) to the North-west corner of Hayes & Laguna Sts., where we observed a column of smoke; a fire having originated at this point, in a drug store.

We arrived here at 5.25 A. M. but were unable to obtain any water from the hydrants in this immediate vicinity, therefore it took us fully four hours to extinguish this fife; where under ordinary circumstances one half hour's work would have sufficed. After a long search a hydrant (at Hayes & Buchanan Sts.) was found emitting water four blocks away from the scene of the conflagration, and then began the task of pumping water a distance of 3200 feet. This was done by stationing an engine at the hydrant which pumped through eight hundred feet of hose; here another engine forced the water through another eight hundred feet, and so on until three engines in tandem were busily engaged. With the aid of Engines No. 14, 21 and 34 both fires were extinguished.

We left this place at about 12 M on April 18th, and returned to our station to obtain a new supply of hose. We were then ordered to Fell & Gough Sts., where a new fire had originated, caused by a defective chimney, the same having been damaged by the earthquake. This fire was known as the Hayes Valley fire and was responsible for the destruction of that portion of this city located (South of Market) west of Eighth St. to Twentieth St. (North of Market) West of Powell St. . . . The Hayes Valley fire originated at 395 Hayes Street, Southeast corner of Gough St. This fire was under the direction of Assistant Chief P. H. Shaughnessy and Chiefs Dolan, Waters and McKitkrick [sic].

During the time we were engaged in trying to check the flames we had occasion to try the hydrants situated on Eighteenth & Valencia Sts., & Sixteenth and Guerrero Sts. Also all hydrants in this immediate vicinity, but we were unable to obtain any water.

We obtained one small stream at Fifteenth & Guerero [sic] Sts., and used same through Engine No. 13, but this supply only lasted for a few minutes. Near the corner of Sixteenth & Howard Sts., the water main had been broken and by daming [sic] same up, we were able to form a cistern, and pumped the water from this place for sometime. This supply aided materially in checking the flames in this vicinity.

We returned to our quarters at 11.30 A. M. on Friday April 20th, after having been on duty continuously for fifty-four hours.

Captain M. Boden
Lieutenant. J. Freeny
Engineer M. J. O'Connell.
Driver. P. J. Meehan.
Stoker W. Leonhardt.
Hoseman E. Long.
Hoseman T. Meacham.
Hoseman D. O'Connell.
Hoseman Chas. Tyson.