Tombstone, AZ Fire Consumes Most of Town, May 1882

OK Corral after the fire of May 1882, photo from wikipedia

Next the window frames were taken in, and the flames communicated to the interior, and carpets, floors, furniture, etc., fed the fiery elements. An Epitaph reporter, immediately after the alarm of fire, and before the department were yet on the ground, climbed on top of the adobe building in rear of the Grand Hotel. A glance was sufficient to convince that the fire would be one of enormous extent. All the surroundings were peculiarly adapted to flame food. The Tivoli garden was

Roofed With Canvas.

Of course this was swept off instantly. East of it was the Chinese laundry, fronting on Fifth Street. The clothes lines in the rear and adjoining the burning structures, were laden with clothes strung out to dry. These fed the flames, and in less than fifteen minutes the entire space between Fourth and Fifth streets, and Allen and Toughnut was one steaming, smoking, blazing mass of desolation and ruin. The firemen, than whom no braver body of men or more worthy of thanks exist, turned their attention to the Herculean task of saving the north side of the street. But it was impossible.

The Firemen.

Fronted the flames until most of them were scorched, and finally doggedly retreated to keep up their contest in another quarter. The flames rapidly spread. Soon the Occidental saloon was enveloped, the Alhambra soon followed, and the mad sea of vicious fire spread on each side to the Cosmopolitan Hotel on the west, and the Eagle Brewery on the east. Hartford’s saloon was soon a seething mass of flames. Brown’s hotel followed suit, and the fire ere many minutes had the Fourth Street gun store safely in its arms. Here a scene was presented magnificent in its

Lurid Fierce Grandeur.

A large quantity of powder was stored in the cellars, and a number of cartridges and other explosive material were in the store. Here, as soon as the flames were communicated to the combustibles, a wild scene presented itself. The loud bursting of powder, added to the shouting men of the timid screams of women made the air horrible with their resounding echoes.

The Heart Of Tombstone

Was doomed. None but visionary enthusiasts hoped that anything but the straggling suburbs could be saved. But hope beats high in the human breast, and the gallant firemen, aided by the police, under Chief Neagle, and a number of deputies, under Sheriff Behan, struggled manfully to stem the storm. The wind was not blowing an extraordinary gale and only the fiery elements had to be fought. The flames reached Fremont and rapidly spread the entire distance between 4th and 5th streets. At the corner of 5th and Allen a noble struggle took place. The fiery elements with gaunt, hungry arms thirsted to cross the street and

Capture the Oriental.

Here the firemen got in their best work. It was a pitched battle. The weak water, and the impetuous onset of the flames made it almost certain that the latter would conquer. But Blackburn rallied his gallent (sic) little fire company, a steady stream was poured on and the gaudy destroyer was beaten. Joyce, who suffered so heavily at the former fire, came off in this instance with moderate damage. His loss will be about a couple of thousand dollars. All the liquors he had on hand to be distributed to the gallant defenders of the city, and his house is much gutted up with the water strewn, the porch torn down, and most of his glassware either broken, lest or destroyed. But the

Flames Swept Onward.

Fourth Street was crossed, the clothing house of Levinthall on the corner of 4th and Allen was enveloped. The Nugget office was reached and quickly swept from the face of the earth. The other buildings on the same block were quickly swept away. It reached Fremont on that side, but thanks to the combined efforts of the firemen, deputy sheriffs, police and citizens, the fire was conquered. The backbone of the fell destroyer was broken, and the west end of the block bounded by Third street was saved. The post office went. Scheffelin Hall, the Gird Building, and the Epitaph were in momentary danger. The Epitaph force rallied like gallant sailors on a well-beloved ship, removed the material promptly, and rallied valiantly with buckets to save the building. Their efforts were successful, and the old Epitaph still holds forth to disseminate the daily news of the work, defend the right and condemn the wrong. At this point the fire fiend was

Practically Whipped.

The lodging house kept by Mrs. Fly on Fremont street seemed doomed, but the plucky little lady was to a certain extent prepared. All her furniture and the “plunder” of her lodgers was promptly removed to a safe retreat. But the flames were conquered before reaching her domicile, and it yet stands upon its native heath. The north side of Fremont street had a narrow escape.

Continued