Fire in the Night

Clipping from 1905-01-10 Egyptian Gazette

Often in the Egyptian Gazette fire is mentioned as having caused the death of a resident or the destruction of significant property. On January 4th, 1907 for example, the Gazette reports a large fire on a gunwharf that caused thousands of pounds of goods to be destroyed, officially estimated at a current value of 250,000 British pounds.

Another instance of the debilitating effects of fire mentioned in the Gazette was on January 10, 1905. This fire broke out on Tousson Street in Alexandria, at a store filled with chandeliers, lamps, and large amounts of petroleum. Although a fire engine was on scene 5 minutes after the alarm was activated, eight hoses continuously dumping water could not stop the fire for two hours.

These announcements had vital potential impact on the citizens of Alexandria to raise awareness of the absolute devastation fire could cause and the necessity for precautions against such a danger. The Gazette’s report of fire damage from around the world served the purpose of bringing a more thorough knowledge of the universal issue of uncontrolled fires to the people of Alexandria.

Because the fire fighting techniques of the day were not entirely effective, as realized in the above example, the explicit, long term, and life threatening effects of fire were a necessary understanding among the people of Alexandria in those years, and the Gazette provided consistent documentation to serve that purpose.

Kevin Hernandez
Kevin Hernandez

The author, a student at Florida State University, was enrolled in the digital microhistory lab in spring 2018.