Fire tests Seattle's new horse-drawn steam fire engine on February 12, 1879.

  • By Greg Lange
  • Posted 3/06/1999
  • Essay 960

On February 12, 1879, about two weeks after the City of Seattle acquires a new steam fire engine, it is put to its first test. At 5:45 a.m., a fire is noticed on Washington Street near Second Street (renamed Occidental Avenue) in a Chinese house in the rear of the Sample Rooms saloon. By the time the horse-drawn steam fire engine reaches the blaze, one of the buildings has already burned down and another is in flames.

Next, the roof of J. W. Hunt’s wagon shop caught fire. It had snowed the previous day and “[o]wing to the slush and mud in the streets, cold water in the boiler, etc, some time elapsed before water was thrown on the fire.” Before too much damage was done, the fire engine started pumping and the wagon shop fire was “very soon under control.” There were no injuries. Although female screams were heard, the women and/or girls evidently escaped out the rear of the buildings.

Mr. R. Abrams wood team was awarded $10.00 for being the first horse team to arrive at the fire station on Columbia Street to hitch to the engine.


Weekly Intelligencer, February 15, 1879, p. 3.

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