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The Fire in Detail (1892)
The great fire of July 25, 1892 in the south end of Bay City.
  • Transcribed September 2004.

  • Jul. 28, 1892: View south from Fremont avenue of destruction on Water street.
    Bay City's most disatrous fire took place on July 25, 1892. The fire started in the city's south end near the Miller and Turner mill off Harrison street along the Saginaw river. Fed by gale force winds it destroyed about 350 homes and businesses in a forty-block area. Over 500 hundred people went homeless losing most of their possessions.

    Bay City Tribune - Tuesday, July 26, 1892



    It Started Among a Pile of Heading on Miller & Turnerís Docks.

    From all the information obtainable the fire started in a pile of heading on Miller & Turnerís docks; a short distance southwest of the mill. It evidently orginated from a spark from a passing tug, for the wind was blowing in a direction that would render it impossible to start from a spark the mill smokestack. The heading and lumber surrounding it were dry as tinder and before the alarm could be given the fire bad spread to other lumber piles, to the mill, the building across the streets and was then beyond control.

    With Lightning Speed.

    The flames swept through the lumber yard with marvelous rapidity. The firemen laid their hose with dispatch, and attempted check the fire on the north where Miller & Turnerís mill was situated. For a time they were successful in this attempt, but in the meantime the flames had jumped Harrison street and attacked the block of stores between Thirtieth and Thirty first streets. Stover and Larkin & Co.ís hardware store was the first to go. At 3 oíclock the entire block was on fire and the flames had spread across Thirtieth street on Harrison. At 3:15 Miller & Turnerís mill and cooper shop were burning and nearly every building between Thirtieth and Thirty second street and extending back to Polk street, was on fire. The wind was blowing fiercer than ever, the direction at this time being about northeast. Half an hour later found Miller & Turnerís complete plant leveled to the ground. At Thirty second street the flames came to a stop, the gale forcing the fire north. Leaping Thirtieth street the fire got headway down to Fremont avenue, everything being completely destroyed. The flames were now spreading north and east, the greatest progress being made in the latter direction.

    Polk street was jumped and in an almost incredibly brief space of time the flames spread to Taylor street.

    At 3:40 two hose carts and an engine from Saginaw reached the scene, coming down on a special train. They were at once put in service at the foot of Twenty ninth street, the fire having spread that far. An old store at the corner of Water street with two adjoining houses were all that could be saved in this entire block. At 3:50 the flames were over Webster street and sweeping everything before them. The fire was bounded at this time by Twenty ninth street on the north and Thirty second street on the south.

    At 4 oíclock the majority of the residences as far as McCormick street had been burned to the ground and the flames had gained a headway in the next block. The house of Hon. Albert Miller caught about this time and was soon in ashes. Mr. Miller and sons, Alderman Max Miller and James remained about the house getting out their possessions until almost surrounded by the fiery element. They had a narrow escape and when finally out of harmís way Mr. Miller and James were quite prostrated. They were cared for by the neighbors.

    At 4:10 the wind was blocking even harder. People within a radius of half a mile were removing their furniture and preparing for the worst.

    The Fremont avenue M.E. church went at 4 oíclock and the pastorís residence which adjoined on the east soon followed. The Baptist church was destroyed half an hour earlier.

    The Flames Reach Broadway.

    It was exactly 4:20 when the flames reached Broadway, having passed Wilson street. The fire had in the meantime spread to Thirty third street and was making a clean sweep almost directly east. There were two or three houses on the south side of Twenty ninth street that managed to escape, but everything else was leveled to the ground except for the Sixth ward school which escaped. It was supposed the school house would surely go as the roof is a shingled one. It did catch a few times, but the flames were extinguished with little or no damage. The building stands well back from Marsac street, being quite out of reach of the flames.

    A Close Call.

    At 4:30 the territory between Wilson and Broadway and Fremont avenue and Thirty first street was burning furiously. It was about this time that several men had a very close call in the store of J. C. Price, on Broadway near Thirtieth street. They were in the building securing some goods and did not see the building catch fire. There were four or five of them and the crowd yelled for them to make their escape. This they did in short order, but not an instant too soon, for no sooner had they reached the opposite side of the street when the building was all ablaze.

    At 5 oíclock Thirty third street had been reached and the fire showed no signs of abating.

    At 5:10 the wind changed slightly towards the east, but did not seem to let up in intensity.

    The Flames Spread East of Broadway.

    At 5:20 the flames had crossed Broadway. The Hewett homestead on Fremont avenue, one of the oldest land marks in the city was the first go go.

    At 5:30 a burning coal flew over and alighted on the roof of the Michigan Box factory, at the corner of Fremont avenue and the railroad track, setting it afire. The tire room was badly burned but the building was but little damaged.

    At 5:45 the flames spread to Thirty fourth street.

    At 5:50 Stanton street had been reached and several houses in the next block between Fremont avenue and Thirty first street were burning.

    At 6:20 an engine and hose cart from Flint arrived on special. About fifty people came along, representatives of the Flint papers being among the number. The train left Flint at 5:49 and but an hour and 10 minutes were occupied in making the trip.

    Acres In Ruins Under Control

    1892 Fire Menu
    * Introduction
    * Letter, Letitia Dickie
    * Acres in Ruins
    * Fire in Detail
    * Under Control.
    * Slept in the Streets
    * Unfounded Rumor
    * A Relief Meeting
    Related Notes & Pages

    (Click to enlarge.)
    The fire of July 25, 1892 was Bay City's most disatrous, it started in the city's south end, near the Miller & Turner mill, located between Harrison street and the Saginaw river and foot of 31st street. Fed by gale force winds, it destroyed 350 homes and businesses covering a forty-block area. 1800 people went homeless, most lost all of their possessions.
    People Referenced
    Miller, Albert
    Miller, James
    Miller, Max (alderman)
    Price, J.C.
    Subjects Referenced
    Baptist church
    Bay City, MI
    Flint, MI
    Flint press
    Hewitt homestead
    M.E. church, Fremont av.
    Michigan Box factory
    Miller & Turner docks
    Price store
    Saginaw, MI
    Sixth ward school
    Thirty first
    Thirty second
    Thirty third
    Thirty fourth
    Twenty ninth

    Stover & Larkin hardware store
    Internet References
  • None at this time.
  • WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.