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Atlanta, GA Fire Destroys 100 Blocks, May 1917

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Considering the confusion and the speed with which the fire spread the small number of casualties reported is regarded as unusual. Only about sixty persons were listed tonight as having been taken to hospitals. The one death reported was that of Miss Bessie Hodges, who dies of shock. Many of those taken to hospitals were suffering from shock, heat prostration, or minor injuries.

Mayor Candler issued a statement tonight saying that outside offers to help would be unnecessary.

“Atlanta greatly appreciates the offers of aid that already have come, but we can handle the relief situation without it.” said the Mayor. He added that he had investigated the reports that the fire was incendiary origin, and found that “there is nothing whatever to support that theory.”

Relief Work Quickly Begun.

Thousands of homeless were being cared for tonight by a Citizen’s Committee and the Atlanta Red Cross Chapter. Most of them were quartered in public buildings.

The fire had swept over only a few blocks before relief measures were undertaken by the Red Cross and the associated charities, while the other societies and hundreds of individuals volunteered for the work.

Food was provided at the Armory for 5,000 people. Army trucks, express wagons, and private automobiles were pressed into service to handle the foodstuffs.

Hundreds of negroes whose houses were swept by the flames are left destitute. The large building of the negro Odd Fellows was filled with cots, and negro churches threw open their doors to negro sleeper. Many negroes were housed in private homes.

The New York Times, New York, NY 22 May 1917

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