Jacksonville, FL Fire, May 1901

Jacksonville, FL Fire, May 1901 Jacksonville, FL Fire, May 1901

Jacksonville, Fla. May 4 - MR. W.W. CLEAVELAND, in whose premises the fire originated, and who was one of the heaviest losers dropped dead from excitement.

A stalwart negro, bringing a trunk on his head from a burning building, went crazy from the horror of the situation. He ran around in a circle with the trunk on his head until he sank exhausted and died.

Women ran through the streets tearing their hair and clothes, and in several instances had almost denuded themselves when they were caught by friends and led to places of safety.

Horses hitched to trucks could not be cut loose quickly enough, and many of them ran wild through the demoralized throng.

At night the military was ordered out to guard the household goods piled high in vacant lots.

The Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta, GA 4 May 1901


BURIED HIS LIBRARY During the progress of the fire hundreds of people moved their goods out into the street but it was impossible to get drays to cart the goods away , and furniture books and bric-a-brac were burned up. DR. STOUT saved his library by digging a hole in his yard, in which her buried his books, wrapped up in a blanket. This plan was followed by several people, some of whom buried their trunks in the same manner.

The Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta GA, 5 May 1901


The Great Fire of 1901 was a conflagration that occurred in Jacksonville, Florida, on May 3, 1901. It was one of the worst disasters in Florida history and the third largest urban fire in the US, next to the Great Chicago Fire, and the 1906 San Francisco fire.

In 1901, Jacksonville was a city which consisted mainly of wooden buildings with wood shingled roofs. The city itself had been suffering under a prolonged drought, leaving the building exteriors across the city dry and fire-prone. At around noon on Friday, May 3, 1901, workers at the Cleaveland Fibre Factory, located on the corner of Beaver and Davis Streets, left for lunch. Several minutes later, sparks from the chimney of a nearby building started a fire in a pile of Spanish moss that had been laid out to dry. First, factory workers tried to put it out with a few buckets of water, as they had frequently done on similar occasions. However, the blaze was soon out of control due to the wind picking up out of the east. A brisk northwest wind fanned the flames, which "spread from house to house, seemingly with the rapidity that a man could walk".

In eight hours, the fire burned 146 city blocks, destroyed more than 2,368 buildings, and left almost 10,000 residents homeless. It is said the glow from the flames could be seen in Savannah, Georgia, and the smoke plumes in Raleigh, North Carolina.