The Great Shake: San Francisco 1906 1906

Photographs of the burning Call BuildingThe fire burned down through the Call Building, its intense heat blowing out the exterior windows floor by floor, and fueling the fire with fresh oxygen. From there it began to burn other buildings on the south side of Market Street.

At about the same time, a housewife in Hayes Valley, a neighborhood just north of Market Street and west of Van Ness Avenue (the city's two major thoroughfares), decided to cook breakfast. Unaware that her flue had been damaged by the quake, she lit her stove. Her kitchen caught fire. The city's fire department had 585 men and 50 engines and hook-and-ladder trucks, but all of them were engaged either South of the Slot or on Market Street, trying to save the city's commercial center. The "Ham and Eggs Fire" spread quickly, eventually engulfing an enormous area of homes and businesses.

By noon there were only three sources of water in the city's commercial heart: a single hydrant that brought water from Ocean Beach to the downtown bathhouses; the Palace Hotel's private supply; and two fireboats at the foot of Market Street pumping water out of the Bay, trying to save the wharves and warehouses.



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