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National Weather Service issues ominous reminder about Great Seattle Fire of 1889

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Aftermath of Seattle fire of June 6, 1889 looking east at the ruins of the Occidental Hotel at corner of James St. and Yesler Way. From University of Washington Libraries Digital Collections via Wikpedia.

SEATTLE — The city burned in 1889. Twenty-five blocks — all of the city’s business district — decimated by a fire started by glue and gasoline.

Sure, the city’s largest and most notorious fire occurred more than a 100 years ago and times have changed. But the dry spring and high temperatures of 1889 are eerily similar to the conditions of today, the  National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration warned.

The NOAA released an ominous statement Wednesday coyly reminding residents of the biggest fire in Seattle’s history, saying that though safety standards and firefighting techniques have greatly improved, Seattle is by no means immune to an expansive fire.

From the NOAA:

THE GREAT SEATTLE FIRE OCCURRED ON JUNE 6TH 1889...BURNING 25 BLOCKS 
OF DOWNTOWN SEATTLE NEAR THE WATERFRONT. WEATHER CONDITIONS THAT 
SPRING WERE QUITE SIMILAR TO THOSE THIS YEAR...WARM AND DRY. SEA-
BREEZE WINDS COMING OFF ELLIOTT BAY THAT WARM AFTERNOON HELPED FAN 
THE FLAMES AND SPREAD THE FIRE FROM ONE BUILDING TO THE NEXT WITH 
EASE.

A situation where a fire could spread from building-to-building, like it did in the Great Seattle Fire, is not impossible, NOAA reports. While fire-resistant structures exist, neighborhoods where homes are quite close to each other are still susceptible to high temperature blazes.

And lets not forget about the heat. June in Seattle was the warmest ever, the NOAA reports, with an average temperature of 68 degrees — high above the former record of 65.8 degrees. The NOAA reports that many of the largest city fires in recent memory — Detroit in 2010 and Oakland in 1991 — also happened during unusually dry years.

The NOAA reminded Seattle residents to prepare their homes and residences as best as possible to help prevent a city-wide catastrophe.

EVERYONE NEEDS TO DO WHAT THEY CAN TO HELP AVOID ANY FIRE STARTS 
DURING THIS QUITE WARM DRY PERIOD...PARTICULARLY ON BREEZY DAYS 
WHERE THE WIND CAN HELP SPREAD ANY FIRE IN BOTH A RURAL AND URBAN 
SETTING. 

TO TAKE ACTION NOW AROUND YOUR HOME TO HELP BUILD DEFENSIBLE 
SPACE...VISIT WWW.FIREWISE.ORG FOR TIPS SUCH AS MOVING FIREWOOD AWAY 
FROM YOUR HOME...TRIMMING TREE LIMBS UP OFF THE GROUND TO ABOVE YOUR 
HEAD...AND CLEANING ROOFS AND GUTTERS OF DEBRIS. EACH OF US CAN HELP 
SMOKEY BEAR AND HIS MOTTO - ONLY YOU CAN PREVENT WILDFIRES - WHETHER 
IN URBAN OR RURAL AREAS. 

 

For more on this story, visit the NOAA’s website here. 



		




	

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