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