This is Item #12718
Release: May 2000
Edition Quantity: 3,000
New Orleans Great Fire of 1788
The fire broke out in the chapel attached to the residence of Don Vincente Joe
Nunez, a Spaniard who lived on Chartres Street. It occurred during the early
afternoon of March 21, 1788, which happened to be Good Friday. Church bells were
used to alarm citizens of fire, but on Good Friday, no alarm bells were sounded.
Although at the early period of the city's history the buildings were not
situated very close together, the presence of a high wind that amounted almost
to a gale, caused the fire to spread among the wooden houses of which the city
of that day principally consisted, the flames leaping from one to another across
the intervals, until a large portion of the town was in a blaze. Against such a
tremendous conflagration even fairly good facilities would have been taxed to
labor with any sort of success; the inhabitants were unprepared for any such
emergency, it was hopeless.
Before the end of the afternoon, an extensive area was completely burned over.
The number of houses lost has been estimated variously from eight to nine
hundred. Among them were not only hundreds of private dwellings, but many public
buildings, including the parochial church and presbytery, with a large portion
of the parish archives; the municipal building, the military barracks and the
armory with all it's ordinance except a hundred an fifty muskets, and the public
jail, from which with great difficulty the imprisoned inmates were rescued from
burning to death.
Among the prominent buildings saved were the Custom House, tobacco warehouses,
the official residences of the Governor and Intendent, the general supply store,
in which were kept provisions and sundry gifts for the Indians; the Royal
Hospital, the Convent of the Ursulines, certain barracks, besides a number of
private residences fronting on the river, from whence water readily available to
them. The city, who just a few hours before, had been enjoying more than the
ordinary comforts of life was now in ruins within the space of five hours and
transformed into an arid and fearful desert. The amount of the loss was
subsequently ascertained to be $2,595,561.00.
Today the New Orleans Fire Department consists of the following:
There are a total of 863 uniformed and civilian employees.
34 Engine Companies
11 Ladder Companies
4 Rescue Companies
1 Haz Mat Companies
1 EMS Companies
New Orleans Fire Department has 44 stations.
The New Orleans Fire Department was organized as a paid department on Monday,
December 1, 1891.
The Department protects 300 square miles, 199 is land miles.
Over 500,000 citizens are protected by the New Orleans Fire Department.
The Department provides the following services to the City of New Orleans:
Marine, Air Operations and Urban Search and Rescue.