Some Great New England Fires

Updated: Jun 24

New England has a long history of “great” fires. New England has had more “great” fires than any other part of the United States. As towns and cities grew there was

a genuine need to improve fire protection. The rapid and mostly unregulated expansion of cities and industry created densely built and highly combustible urban areas. These were ripe for large fires and terrible conflagrations that could overwhelm a fire department very quickly.

Through the 19th Century firefighting technology did not keep pace the growth of towns and cities. Devastating conflagrations happened with alarming frequency. Many New England towns and cities were ravaged by terrible conflagrations that destroyed scores of buildings while many others suffered large fires that destroyed whole city blocks.

In the 20th Century configurations remained a serious threat to New England cities that had been densely built in the 19th Century. Lax fire and building codes and lax enforcement would lead to many disasters and tragedies. These are some of these


Portland, Maine on July 4, 1866

The Great Boston Fire of 1872

The Great Roxbury Fire of 1894

Waterbury, Connecticut, 1902

The 1908 Chelsea Fire

Bangor, Maine, 1911

Great Salem Fire of 1914

The Great Fall River Fire of 1928

The Cocoanut Grove Fire 1942

The Hartford Circus Fire of 1944