1872 fire

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The 1872 Birmingham fire was a disastrous blaze which spread from B. F. Cheek's drug store on the southeast corner of 20th Street and 3rd Avenue North and consumed twelve other structures before it could be contained.

The fire began on the evening of July 4, 1872 when a young girl spilled a kerosene lantern on the second floor of the shop, which also served as the Cheek's home in the young city. It quickly consumed the pharmacy and began spreading to nearby frame structures.

The fire was fought by hand, with members of the Pioneer Fire Company No. 1 working alongside members of the public to tote water in large leather bags from the well at the corner of 2nd Avenue and 25th Street. The well ran dry before the fire could be put out, and the spread of the flames was limited more by the relatively large distances between many of the city's 125 homes and 48 stores.


  • Laughlin, Jerry W. (n. d.) "The First 100 Years: 1872 to 1972". IAFF Local 117 and Birmingham Retired Firefighters - accessed via the Internet Archive