Late in the afternoon of 8 July 1892, a small fire broke out in a St. John’s stable after a lit pipe or match fell into a bundle of hay. Although containable at first, the flames quickly spread due to dry weather conditions, a disorganized fire department, and poor planning on the part of city officials. Within hours, the fire had destroyed almost all of St. John’s, leaving 11,000 people homeless and causing $13 million in property damage.
Here are some photos from the provincial archives of the city in ruins after the fire:
This image shows damaged buildings on the south side of Water Street, the city’s business district
Many residents stored their valuables in the Anglican Cathedral, believing it could withstand the flames.
Basilica of St. John The Baptist and St. John’s after the Great Fire. Notice all the chimney stacks standing alone all over the city.
This is my neighbourhood in ruins.
Here is a pdf of an article from the New York Times archives dated 1892 about the fire:
THE GREAT ST. JOHN’S FIRE; STORIES TOLD BY MEN WHO SAW THE CITY BURN. THE HEAT FELT SIXTY MILES AT SEA — CLOTHING NEEDED BY FIFTEEN THOUSAND HOMELESS CITIZENS _ WOMEN AND CHILDREN HUDDLED TOGETHER UNDER ROUGH SHEDS.