mid-afternoon, the Palace Hotel was burning, and fires were visible
from every vantage point in the city (and from across the Bay in Oakland).
Towers of smoke could be seen from as far as 100 miles away. On every
block of the city, smoke filled the sky and obscured the sun. Journalist
Henry Lafler, writing for McClure's Magazine, had set up his
typewriter on an abandoned table in Portsmouth Plaza, and described
the effect of the fires: