Guardians of The City SFFD Home Page - San Francisco Fire Department Museum
Great Fires:

May 4, 1851

May 4, 1851 Fire May 4, 1851
The great fire on this day actually began after 11:00 PM on May 3rd, in a store on the south side of Portsmouth Plaza.  A known habitue of villainous Sydney-Town was seen running from the store moments before it exploded in flame and simultaneous fires erupted in the business district.  Water evaporated to steam as swift winds sent the roaring flames everywhere through the great blow-pipe-like hollows beneath the plank streets.  Men in their anguish, ran for shelter within new, fancied "fireproof" brick and iron buildings, only to perish miserably when the metal shutters and doors expanded and couldn't be opened.  Three-fourths of the city was lost, yet, in ten days, San Franciscans rebuilt one-fifth of their city.


Barbary Coast Press, Rick Covell
Copy by Katherine York and Tim Keefe
Illustrations by David McMacken
San Francisco Vintage Firehouse Poster is on sale at the San Francisco Fire Museum Gift Shop.

SFFD Home Page Guardians of The City Home Page