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National Weather Service Warns Conditions Are Right for Great Seattle Fire Repeat

Image: Seattle Municipal Archives

Even if you don't know the details, you're probably aware that the The Great Seattle Fire of 1889 was pretty bad. They don't call it "Great" because it was tiny. The key to knowing what happened is that a glue pot caught fire during a drought, eventually burning 29 city blocks. Seattle has changed since then. Most of our buildings aren't built out of wood anymore, which is a good start. However, there's one thing we can't control: the weather. As Seattle has sweated through weeks of drought and torrid weather, it's all starting to remind the National Weather Service of that fateful day over 120 years ago.

...THE GREAT SEATTLE FIRE OF 1889 - WEATHER CONDITIONS SIMILAR TODAY... 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.

CAN A FIRE LIKE THAT HAPPEN TODAY? THE CURRENT UNSEASONABLY WARM AND DRY CONDITIONS HAVE CREATED A SITUATION WHERE FIRE CAN SPREAD FROM ONE BUILDING TO ANOTHER EASILY...PARTICULARLY IN NEIGHBORHOODS WHERE HOMES ARE QUITE CLOSE TO EACH OTHER. FORTUNATELY...SOME STRUCTURES HAVE MORE FIRE RESISTANT BUILDING MATERIALS AND A STATE OF THE ART FIRE RESPONSE COMMUNITY CAN HELP STOP SUCH SPREADING FIRES. YET THEY STILL CAN HAPPEN THANKS TO THE WEATHER CONDITIONS.

So Seattleites already concerned about impending earthquakes, viaduct collapses, tunnel mishaps and housing woes can now add "Repeat of The Worst Disaster to Ever Strike Seattle" to the list. Have a good day everyone! Drink plenty of fluids.

Just leave some fluids laying around for the fire department. Just in case...
· The Weather Service Warns Seattle of a Potential Historic Fire [CL]
· Curbed Seattle History Lessons - The Great Seattle Fire [CS]
· 10 Photos Before & After The Great Seattle Fire of 1889 [CS]