Atlanta, GA Fire Destroys 100 Blocks, May 1917

Atlanta GA fire 5-21-1917.jpg Atlanta GA fire 5-21-1917 2.jpg Atlanta GA fire 5-21-1917 3.jpg

Three Fires Burning At Once.

Firemen were fighting a small blaze in the big Atlanta cotton warehouse, where military supplies are stored, and at the same time six residences in West End were burning, when the alarm came in from Decatur Street. As many companies as could be spared were sent to that section, but it is doubtful if the entire department could have checked the conflagration developing there under the high wind.

The fact that three fires were burning at practically the same time started vague reports that incendiaries were at work.

A Great Exodus.

The wide area in the sweep of the flames was a scene of indescribable confusion. The flames moved in some instances as steadily as a man would walk, but householders kept ahead of its march and in this way no one, as far as known, was trapped in a burning house.

As soon as the blaze crossed into the white residence section the people in its path seemed quickly to realize their danger and the departure of families in every kind of conveyance began. Gradually as the fire advanced the streets became a jumble of carts, automobiles and trucks piled high with furniture and bedding. Babies rode atop huge delivery wagons with their mothers holding handfuls of quickly snatched belongings. Men in their shirtsleeves, who had fought the fire on neighboring houses, believing that it would not reach their own homes, escaped with only the clothes they wore, and many finally were forced to seek a safety zone to hunt for hours for their families who had preceded them out of the burning area.

Many houses surrounded by flames, collapsed in heaps, it was said, before the fire actually reached them. Several street cars, stalled by lack of power, were caught in the path and consumed, and hundreds of trunks and piles of furniture, dragged into the streets, met with the same fate.

Vagaries of the wind caused great alarm in sections that afterward proved safe, and tonight for blocks on all sides of the area of destruction household goods were piled in every open place. These were guarded in most cases by National Guardsmen, who also were pressed into all kinds of work.