"As far as one could see lay nothing but a barren waste, with here and there the ragged walls of a church or school standing out against the sky like the ruins of some old castle." Quote from eyewitness account of John P. Nolan, dated April 13, 1908.
The Great Chelsea Fire occurred on a Palm Sunday morning, April 12, 1908, in the Chelsea area of Boston. At 10:44AM, the fire department received a call about a fire in Chelsea and quickly arrived to extinguish it. Unfortunately, a small spark from the fire was caught by the wind and the fire reignited. It did not help that most of the buildings in Chelsea were made of wood: the area went up like a bunch of matchsticks. The fire spread throughout the area until stopping at the railroad tracks, just past St. Rose Church. Even the Old Chelsea Bridge was completely destroyed by flames.
In the end, over 2,800 buildings were destroyed and thousands of people were left homeless. There was an estimated 17 million dollars in total fire damages in the 500 acres of city that were destroyed. Despite the huge amount of damage, only 19 people died in the fire. This may be the result of a large number of residents attending the Palm Sunday church service at the time of the fire.
In her scrapbook, Daisie has a “History of the Chelsea Fire” souvenir booklet. This item has information about the event and black and white photographs that show the destructive damage caused by the fire. The photographs eerily resemble the level of ruin of a bombed city in wartime.
Harriman-Clarke, Margaret. (2004). Chelsea in the 20th Century. Great Britain: Arcadia Publishing.