CAPTAIN STEPHEN D. RUSSELL,
ENGINE NO. 27
From the effects of the earthquake that occurred on the morning of April 18th, 1906, we found that our engine had been disconnected from the heater, and had rolled about four feet ahead. By still alarm we were informed that a two-
Several large fires were burning in different sections of the city and we proceeded to Fifth and Market streets, where we attached our hose to the [saltwater] hydrant and led two streams to the buildings on Fifth Street, opposite the Mint. We made a stand in the rear of the Lincoln School building [on Jessie Street], and endeavored to check the flames which were burning at that time in the rear of the Emporium; we found our apparatus inadequate to cope with fires of this magnitude, and were forced to withdraw.
Our company next located at the corner of Eddy and Market streets, where the engine was connected to the hydrant, and two streams played on the buildings on the north side of Market St., until the fire on the south side had burned out. While fighting the fire in this district, the U.S. soldiers rendered us great assistance, and were instrumental in saving our apparatus at times. Chief Maxwell ordered us to locate a hydrant in the vicinity of Golden Gate Ave. and Van Ness; the fire at this time was burning from Grove St., north, and the nearest hydrant of service was at Eddy and Franklin streets, five blocks distant. The engine was connected at this point, and with the aid of Engine No. 15, we doubled up, using a hose seven hundred feet long reaching to Grove and Franklin streets, we were forced to abandon this position, however, owing to rapid progress of the fire, and the civil authorities who were dynamiting in this district. The final stand was made at Golden Gate Ave., and with the aid of Engine No. 15, we saved the two blocks on the north side of Golden Gate Ave., from Van Ness to Gough, and while in this vicinity we acted under the directions of Second Assistant Chief Shaughnessy, and Battalion Chief Maxwell.
Wednesday night at 8 p.m. the men were ordered to proceed to Polk and Golden Gate Ave. where the fire had crossed to th North side, and was then working its way north to Turk St. We attached the end of our line to a line led in by Engine No. 14, which was stationed at O'Farrell and Leavenworth streets, and tried to prevent the fire from crossing to the north side of Eddy St., near Jones. For awhile we held this position but at 8 a.m. on the morning of Thursday April 19th, we were driven from this place by the fire, and through orders from Chief Maxwell located at Van Ness and Geary.
About 10 a.m. a large fire sprung up on Larkin St., between Post and Sutter streets, but our supply of water gave out very shortly, and we moved to Bush and Polk streets, with the same results. After this we returned to Van Ness Ave., in search of a hydrant with sufficient pressure, but were unable to find one; the greatest pressure obtained was at Bush and Gough streets, and this was only 20 pounds.
Having been ordered by Chief Shaughnessy to go to work wherever we could, and having been informed that water could be found in the vicinity of Market and Hermann streets, we reported to Battalion Chief Waters who was in charge of that district. By doubling up with Engine No. 36, we led our line to Duboce Ave., and Guerrero St., and saved the northeast corner of these streets. Our line was now extended to Clinton Park, and we saved a section of this district, and the fire was extinguished in this district at about 10:30 p.m. on April 19th.
We were next ordered to Twentieth and Dolores, where we reported to Battalion Chief Maxwell, who instructed us to attach a line led from Twentieth and Church streets.
With the aid of Engine 19, we led two streams down Twentieth and worked from Dolores to Mission Street. Good service was rendered in this vicinity and by 9 a.m. Friday April 20, we were ordered back to quarters by Battalion Chief Waters.
Captain S.D. Russell
Lieutenant L.J. O'Neil
Return to 1906 Earthquake and Fire Report.