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Dakota Datebook

Remembering the Great Fargo Fire in 1910

 

Early Fargo had earned a reputation the Fargo Forum and Daily Republican called “a commercial, financial and railroad center of North Dakota with excellent schools and colleges.”  That progress was nearly destroyed in one harrowing hot afternoon in 1893 with the start of the great Fargo Fire. 

The anniversary of the fire is coming up this Sunday, and back in 1910, on the 17th anniversary, the Fargo Forum recounted the story of the disaster.

It began in early afternoon of a hot and dastardly windy day.  Near the end of Broadway on Front Street (today’s Main Avenue) a small blaze at the back of a store licked a path of flames up the wooden structure that soon spread through the wind-swept town from building to building. The flames gobbled up block after block of businesses and homes. Wind and burning debris propelled fire up streets and down avenues. Water wagons manned by the city’s hose company were nearly overwhelmed as the city burned. The paper reported “C.B. Wade was chief of the department at the time and under him the men worked heroically … with every inch of hose and piece of apparatus in the city fighting the battle of their lives.” Amazingly, there was only one death during the firefight, when firefighter W. H. Johnson was killed by inhaling smoke. 

Fargo rebuilt, and like the rest of the country learned to construct safer cities. For years, in memory of the event, the fire department drove along Broadway shortly after 2 PM on every June 7th. 

The Forum stated, “Only the pioneer residents of the city who saw the flames lick up three million dollars’ worth of property can realize and appreciate the situation in Fargo on June 7th and 8th, 1893 – days that can never be forgotten by hundreds of people.”

Dakota Datebook by Steve Stark

Source: June 7th, 1910 Fargo Forum & Daily Republican

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