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Charleston, SC Destructive Fire, Apr 1838

AWFUL FIRE IN CHARLESTON.

Office of the Augusta Chronicle.
April 28, 6 o'clock, P.M.
We learn with the deepest regret, by passengers from Charleston, who arrived here this evening, by the Carolina Railroad, that the city of Charleston has been visited by one of the most awful and destructive fire that has ever visited any city in the U. States. One-third of the city was laid in ashes at the departure of the cars this morning at 6 o'clock, and the fire was raging as if it would consume at least one-third more.
The fire broke out last night at a quarter past eight o'clock, in a paint store, on the western side of King Street, corner of Beresford St. The wind blowing strongly from the southwest, blew the flames diagonally across King Street, and at the time of the departure of the cars, the whole section of the city above Beresford Street, up to Society Street, and east of King Street, to the Bay, was burnt down or burning. From Beresford to Society are four Streets -- from King street to the bay about as many, or perhaps more.
The fire had also extended four or five blocks west of King Street, and was still progressing with terrific rapidity up that street in the direction of Boundary Street, when the cars left. Our informant believes it impossible to calculate what will be the ultimate extent of the fire as it seemed in no way checked at 6 o'clock this morning.
Among the buildings consumed are a number of churches, the new theatre, the splendid new hotel recently erected, and the whole market, except the fish market. Nearly all the large merchants, in the centre of business, on King Street, were burnt out.
Among them, Parish, Wiley & Co., Boream & Co., and all that neighborhood, and the large storehouse of Miller, Ripley & Co. on the corner of King and Society Sts. was catching the flames when our informant left. The Merchants' Hotel, formerly Minot's, had not caught, but it was believed to be impossible to save it. At Norris's Hotel, still higher up King Street, and on the west side, they had removed all the furniture and bedding, in almost certain anticipation of being burnt out.
A large number of houses had been blown up, to no purpose. All the powder in the city was exhausted, and all the water in the pumps; the people, wearied with a whole night's incessant and unavailing toil, found themselves this morning, able to make but a feeble resistance to the still raging and devouring flames. A number of persons had been killed by the blowing up of houses and throwing furniture into the streets. The Steamboat Neptune, lying in the Bay, caught on fire, but it was fortunately extinguished.
This is indeed a mournful catastrophe. A flourishing city laid in ashes, her people burnt out of home and substance, and millions of property destroyed in a single night. The Insurance Companies of Charleston, we learn, are of small capitals, and will every one, no doubt, be ruined, and still be unable to make good but a small portion of the losses. Hundreds of families must be utterly ruined in this general calamity. Years cannot make Charleston what she was.

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article | by Dr. Radut