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

Case Planning Mill
Market & Stevenson
July 18, 1855

Loss Twenty–Four Thousand Dollars

About 6 o'clock, this morning, a fire broke out in the three story building known as the planing mill of Mr. D. T. Chase, fronting on Market and extending nearly through to Stevenson street We learn that the fire originated in the engine room, where in firing up early in the morning some sparks had fallen among the shavings. The bell on the late house of California Engine Co. No. 4 first gave the alarm. The Monumental 6 bell followed. and some time after the alarm bell is the City Hall struck the word. The mill, however, was quite enveloped in flames before the alarm was sounded; after which the Department was quickly on the spot. The fire swept with great fury towards the bay, totally destroying the mill and the building immediately adjoining. It also passed through in a southeasterly direction to Jesse street, where tome fifteen small tenements were destroyed. The firemen battled Manfully and deserve the highest praise for the promptness with which they arrested the flames in the midst of a wooden section of the city, »cry closely built and closely settled. Considerable distress has been caused by this fire, m the occupants of the buildings were nearly all poor families, who hurried away with what property they could snatch from the devouring element. The street was quite filled with families whose homes had been destroyed. The fire was extinguished in about an hour from its commencement.


On Stevenson St.— This street was very closely built, and nearly all the houses occupied. Noland & Donelan's grocery, near the corner of Second street, was entirely consumed. The stock was very complete, and was valued at $3000. The house was owned by Messrs. Fogarty A: Dermot. Loss about $1,000. Two small cottages in the rear of this; loss about $1,400. A small cottage owned by Mr. O'Connor, adjoining these, was also burned ; loss $600. Two small wooden buildings, owners and occupants unknown, fronting on Stevenson st. and adjoining the grocery, were destroyed: loss $1,000.
The house of Mr. Reeve was burned; loss $150.
Mr. Rockwell, a member of California Engine Co. No. 4. had his house gutted and furniture destroyed: loss $1,300.
On the opposite side of the street, a two-story wooden dwelling, the property of Thomas O. Larkin burned inside, but the frame saved : loss $500.
Three buildings, owned by Mrs. Ann McGrury, was destroyed : loss $2,000.
In the rear of these were two houses near the mill of D. T. Chase. owned by Mr. Jacobs and Mr. Edward Oats, recently arrived from Australia. both of these were burned; loss $6,000 Mr. Oats owned the house and some valuable property, which was also destroyed.

Market street.— The saw and planing mill, in which the fire originated, was totally destroyed. Mr. Chase estimates his loss at $17,000. The building was full of valuable machinery, and occupied a space of ground ,72 feet front by 111 deep. Messrs. Brown & Wollaver. stair builders in the southeastern part, were also burned out. They were constructing the iron stairs for the new Custom House. All the moulds, &c. were ruined. Their loss is not less than $1,200 Next to the sawmill was the dwelling of Mrs. Conboy, which was burned to a mere blackened shell. The poor woman has been running frantically about, and excited general sympathy. Her loss was about $1,000.

The small dwelling of Mrs. Maurow, in the rear of this, was gritted and partially burned A small cottage, owned by Mr. Daniel Hart, closely adjoining this, was also burned. The losses by the two above amount to about $1,000. These houses fronted upon small alley connecting Market with Jessie street.

One family was burned out who had only got well settled after losing everything by the fire on the morning of the 4th on Kearny street. Several little children nearly nuked were seen just escaping the flames We are informed by Mr. D. T. Chase that two men employed in his mill — Frank Cunningham and Charles Tompkins — were in the back part of the building at the time of the lire. Mr. Cunningham barely escaped with his life by jumping through one of the upper windows ; but Mr. Tompkins was not seen to leave from the house, and not having been seen since, it is feared he is lost in the fire. several of his friends were expressing great anxiety for him. This steam mill has caught fire four times during the last two years, and has long been regarded by the Fire Department as a doomed building. There was a private stable near by, owned by Mr.Chase, which was also burned The horses were all saved.

A beautiful roll call belonging to Empire Engine Co. No. 1 was destroyed with the mill. It a fine piece of workmanship was worth some hundreds of dollars. We learn that the wood was worth $75.

Total loss ; about $24,000. Much of this comes upon poor ill able to bear it.
Source: Daily Alta California, Volume 6, Number 178, 19 July 1855 — THURSDAY MORNING, JULY 19, 1855 DESTRUCTIVE FIRE. [ARTICLE]

Extracted from original sources with grammar and spelling as published.

SFFD Home Page Guardians of The City Home Page