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Immediately after [the] earthquake which occurred in this city on April 18, 1906, I found that the building occupied by Engine No. 7, located at Albion Ave., and 16th St., was slightly damaged from the effects of the quake. Some of the plaster had fallen off the wall and one of the front doors was jammed so that I had some difficulty in getting my buggy out. We received a still alarm and in company with Engine No. 7 we proceeded to 15th and Dolores St. by the time we arrived however the fire had been extinguished.

We next proceeded to 22nd and Mission St. where a fire was ranging at that time, and Engine No. 7 stopped on the way to help extricate some dead and injured from the Valencia Hotel ruins [Valencia above 17th], after which they reported to 22nd and Mission. We located a cistern at 22nd and Shotwell streets, containing 100,000 Gals... and with the aid of Engine No. 24 which was stationed at 21st and Valencia streets, we had the fire out in a short time. I next drove to Hayes Valley where I found a fire starting at the corner of Hayes and Gough streets. Engine No. 19 was on hand, but as no water could be obtained the fire gained rapid headway. I ordered No. 7 Engine to report at this fire, and also others' companies, we could not use the fire alarm system, as it was out of order.

We obtained some water at Oak and Webster streets (six blocks away) and by running a line of hose through three engines, were able to use one small stream with very little effect. We were forced to leave this neighborhood, as the dynamiting crew was starting operations on Hayes St., opposite the St. Ignatius Church [now site of Davies Symphony Hall]. By connecting Engines No. 21-34-14-19-7 I obtained two streams, and checked the fire from spreading further west than Octavia St.

The building occupied by Engine No. 19, located on Market near 10th St. was badly damaged by the earthquake, and the doors were thrown open so that the horses ran away. The apparatus was pulled into the street by hand, and the company responded to a call on Natoma near 10th St. they found that a building had collapsed and that several people were buried in the ruins. The company recaptured their horses and drove down Market to 8th St., to Harrison, to 6th St., trying all hydrants en route in an effort to obtain water, but without success.

We obtained a small supply of water from a hydrant located on the west side of 6th St., between Folsom and Howard, and worked in that vicinity until the supply of water gave out. This company next reported to Hayes and Gough streets, and tried to obtain water from the hydrant on the southeast corner but were not successful. Neither could they get any water from the sewer. Word came from [Acting Department] Chief Dougherty to send two engines, so I took Engine No. 19, and by working in connections with Engines No. 7, 36 and 19, we prevented the fire from spreading west of Octavia St. until the morning of April 19th.

I was notified that the fire was starting at Valencia St., so I ordered the companies to report at that place. I tried all the hydrants south on Valencia St. to 15th St., west on 15th to Guerrero St., north on Guerrero to Hermann and Buchanan streets. By connecting these engines, we held the fire from crossing Market St. with this one stream [ from Hermann and Buchanan]. Other engines arrived and I obtained another steam, and in this way we held the fire in check until I was notified that this block was going to be dynamited, and we were forced to leave. The work of the wreckers was not successful, as the block burned up after being dynamited.

We next diverted our attention in an effort to prevent the fire from crossing Guerrero St., and with the aid of these two streams succeeded in saving the entire block between Duboce and Clinton Park. 

After this Engine No. 27 was ordered to 20th and Dolores streets, as I understood there was water there. Engine No. 27 was moved to 17th and Howard St. late Thursday afternoon. Engines No. 19-27-26 and 21 made their last stand at Dolores and 20th streets.

W.D. Waters
Battalion Chief District No. 7

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