Let's take a closer look at an example of fireworks causing serious fires in Marin County. The earliest example we know of so far happened in Sausalito 124 years ago on, of course, the 4th of July.
In this case funds for an Independence Day fireworks display were raised by the owner of a hotel named the El Monte. Contributors included members of the community who wanted to see a good fireworks display on the 4th of July. It was reported that several hundred dollars were raised, or more than $7,000 today.
To put that into perspective, remember in our last blog and story about the fireworks in Corte Madera, that they only spent a few hundred dollars in the early 1950's, and even by the early 1970's only $1,500 for huge displays. So, we know the El Monte put on quite a show that night.
Unfortunately once the show was underway, a nearby business downhill, a saloon and lodging structure called "The Hunters Resort", caught on fire, and the flames eventually spread to many other structures. With no fire department other than the start of organizing volunteers, and no fire equipment, along with a limited water supply, the fire burned unchecked for some time. Eventually a fire tug boat from the San Francisco FD arrived to help, and at some point the fire "got tired" and went out.
The proprietor of the El Monte Hotel, Colonel J.E. Slinkey, denied his fireworks caused the fire, and of course with no fire department there were no fire investigators. At that time the San Rafael Volunteer Fire Department was the only FD in existence in Marin. The good news is that this fire led both to the incorporation of Sausalito starting that same year, and to the creation of the Sausalito Fire Department. Read about this fire by clicking the button below, and also visit the Sausalito FD page under the Departments>Former>Sausalito FD menus.
Our Blog announces new site content, and gives the context of the topic and it's relationship to fire service history. Written by Tom Forster.