Group of Wilmington, NC Firemen on Front Street after the Great Fire of 1886.
On February 21, 1886 the steamer "Bladen" arrived from Fayetteville, NC already on fire. It landed at the Wilmington waterfront, catching the nearest buildings on fire. The fire spread from house to house and went Northeast, destroying around 60 buildings, totaling around half a million dollars in damage. The high winds and dense smoke made fighting the fire very difficult, along with the fact that firemen were unable to access water from the river and had to rely on the water supply from hydrants, which proved inadequate to complete the task. The Mayor tried to reach other fire departments for assistance in fighting the fire, but the telegraph wires along the river had been destroyed in the fire, so it was some time before they were able to communicate with nearby cities. When the fire was extinguished, a large portion of the business district was destroyed, two steamers and a schooner were burned, and the Railroad Freight Depot was in ruins.
Wilmington (N.C.); Fires; Fire departments
black and white photograph
Bill Reaves Collection, Fire Department Document Box
Donated to New Hanover County Public Library by Bill Reaves in 1999
Copyright is owned by the New Hanover County Public Library. For commercial or other use, permission must be granted.