#TBT From the NFPA Archives: 1916 Augusta, Georgia Conflagration

Blog Post created by jrodowicz Employee on Mar 23, 2017

Augusta, Georgia - March 22, 1916

The remains of the Haughton Grammar School in Augusta, Georgia after the Augusta Conflagration.


In today's post the NFPA Archives takes a look back at the avoidable tragedy that occurred in Augusta, Georgia during the span of two days in March 22-23, 1916. The initial cause of the fire is unknown. However, the city streets were full of inflammable cotton (in violation of city ordinances at the time) and the roofs were primarily wooden shingled. As a result of this fire, the building code recommended by the National Board of Fire Underwriters was adopted by the city on April 5, 1916.


From Augusta, Georgia Conflagration March 22-23, 1916. Boston: NFPA, 1916:


"The interval between the start of the fire and its control covered a period of ten hours and forty minutes and in its course of destruction it covered an area of one-quarter square mile, or about 160 acres, destroyed 141 business buildings and 541 dwellings and gutted two buildings of fire-resistive construction. There were several narrow escapes of life; 600 families and 3,000 persons were made homeless and about 1,000 were thrown out of employment. The property loss is about $4,250,000 with insurance loss of about $3,500,000. Among some of the notable buildings destroyed were St. Paul's Episcopal Church, which was 128 years old; two city schools, Y. W. C. A. Building, Commercial Club, and some of the oldest and best dwellings in the city.


As before suggested the underlying conditions of poor construction which made such a catastrophe possible are generally present to a large extent in the remaining part of the mercantile and dwelling districts and
are considerably more pronounced in some sections of the city which were not destroyed."


For more information regarding this story and other NFPA or fire related history, please feel free to reach out to the NFPA LibraryThe NFPA Archives houses all of NFPA's publications, both current and historic. Library staff are available to answer reference questions from members and the general public.