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Video: The Atlanta Fire

The Atlanta fire ravaged the northeastern section of Atlanta in 1917. It started in a warehouse near Grady Hospital and spread rapidly to black neighborhoods in Buttermilk Bottom (near today’s Civic Center). The predominance of wooden structures and a strong southern wind fed the flames. Horses pulled most of the fire engines; fire-fighting equipment was relatively primitive. Atlanta enlisted the aid of many other cities’ fire departments. Mansions along Ponce de Leon Avenue were dynamited to create a fire break. By the time the fire was extinguished, it had consumed nearly 3,400 buildings and rendered 10,000 people homeless. The video features interviews with witnesses to the devastation.