Jacksonville, FL Fire, May 1901 - Another Account of the Fire

An Account From Yulee, Fla.

Yulee, Fla., May 3.-The following is the account of a special correspondent who left Jacksonville early in the evening, and at a time when the excitement was at its height:

When the fire at Jacksonville broke out early this afternoon some delay was experienced in getting an alarm, and, to add to the tragedy of fateful accidents, the engine at the water works suffered a mishap, and nothing more than ordinary pressure could be obtained. By this time the fire had swept to the Boston shore, a huge furniture establishment belonging to W.W. Cleveland & Son, who were also proprietors of the fibre factory.

It leaped across Davis Street and took a course right through a section where block after block after block of frame buildings, mostly occupied by negroes, had been erected. Here is where the Fire Department lost its grip, as simultaneously in half a dozen places, some of them six blocks from the main fire, roofs were seen to burst out in flames. The wind, rising higher and higher, mowed down whole rows of these buildings and attracted at first a crowd of curious sightseers, who seemed to be fascinated by the sight until they learned that their residences too were in danger of total destruction.

Extent Of The Fire.

It took just four hours for the resistless sea of flames to consume every building in its wake for a space of six to eight blocks wide from Davis Street, near where it started, to the Hogans Creek Viaduct, a distance of over one and a half miles, and then, not satisfied with eating the heart of the residential portion of the city out, the fire doubled on itself and came roaring up the principal thoroughfare of trade, destroying everything in what was the original incorporation of Jacksonville. The Government building, which caught fire at one time but was saved, is the only pretentious building left standing, and it may go before morning.

From the humble homes of the poor to the elegant residences of the well-to-do was but a short journey for the flames. After passing Bridge street the first house which succumbed to the flames was the brick dwelling of ex-councilman Stansell. Then it seemed that wherever there happened to be a shingle roof on a building erected before the fire limits were extended the flying embers found lodgment. Blocks away from the main fire other fires would break out.

Into The Heart of The City.

Right into the heart of the city the flames swept. The Windsor Hotel and the St. James, both of which are among the finest Winter hotels in the South, were consumed in an incredibly short time. The Opera House followed next, and then row upon row of elegant residences were offered up in the insatiable fire fiend.