The Great Fire of 1892
At about 5:00pm in the afternoon, July 8, 1892, a dropped pipe in Timothy Brine's
stable at Freshwater Road ,the top of Carter's Hill began what became the
worst fire in St. John's history. Initially the fire did not cause any widespread panic,
however a series of bad coincidences caused the fire to spread and destroy
virtually all of the east end of the city, including much of its major commercial area
before being extinguished.
Rev Moses Harvey witnessed the stages of the fire and remarked to his friend that it
"was a bad day for a fire. A high wind from the north-west was blowing, hurling the
sparks far and wide on the roofs of the clusters of ...view middle of the document...
The businesses that lined Water Street
and Duckworth Street were destroyed as the fire spread throughout the downtown
area. Rev. Harvey stated; “The beautiful shops, full of valuable goods; the stores
behind, containing thousands of barrels of flour and provisions of all kinds; the fish
stores; the wharves, which it had cost immense sums to erect, -- disappeared one by
one into the maw of the destroyer… the whole of Water Street, on both sides, was
`swept with the besom of destruction.”
The fire continued to burn into the night and the early hours of the next morning.
Rev. Harvey's description of the restless night stated that "the terror-stricken
inhabitants flying before the destroyer,… the cries of weeping women hurrying with
their children to places of safety -- all constituted a scene which not even the pen of
Dante could describe."
Daybreak on the morning of July 9, 1892 revealed the full extent of the fire's
devastation. When morning broke the thick clouds of smoke still ascended from the
burning ruins, and it was hours before it had cleared sufficiently to admit a view of
the track of the desolating scourge. A walk through the deserted streets
demonstrated that the ruin was even more complete than seemed possible at first.