Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Like the Phoenix, Jacksonville Rose from the Ashes after the Great Fire

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Like the Phoenix, Jacksonville Rose from the Ashes after the Great Fire

Article excerpt

Celebrate 2000 May 3, 1901 A daily look at events in First Coast history

Friday, May 3, 1901, dawned in Jacksonville with weather that The Florida Times-Union and Citizen promised would be fair and continued warm. Temperatures would range from a low of 65 to a high of 92.

The paper never said it would be windy, nor did it list the daily fire risk.

As some people know, this was the day that Jacksonville burned -- the day of the Great Fire.

For eight hours, from 12:30 to 8:30 p.m., the wind-driven flames ate everything in their paths.

It started when a spark from a shanty's chimney fell on the moss being laid out to dry at Beaver and Davis streets. Soon a large storage shed packed with dried moss was afire.

A brisk northwest wind fanned the flames, which "spread from house to house, seemingly with the rapidity that a man could walk," the paper said the next day.

As the firestorm spread across the city, wood-shingled rooftops, dry from a prolonged drought, ignited like paper.

When the city had been reduced to smoldering ruins, seven people had perished, nearly 10,000 people had been left homeless, 2,368 buildings had been destroyed and 466 acres had been burned.

The flames had consumed 10 hotels, 23 churches and most downtown buildings and caused property damaged estimated at $15 million. …

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