: gendisasters.com, maggieblanck.com, Rutgers University
The Hoboken piers fire of June 30, 1900 claimed at least 326 lives, destroyed three Trans-Atantic liners and 24 smaller craft and gutted warehouses and other shore-side structures.
The Saale, Bremen and Main of the North German Lloyd line were lost; the Kaiser Wilhelm de Gross was heavily damaged.
The fire started in bales of cotton on the wharf and spread to barrels of turpentine and oil, gaining in ferocity.
Flames overwhelmed the resources of the Hoboken Fire Department, which received the initial alarm at about 4 p.m.
On the New York side of the river, Box 251 for West and Morton streets rang in at 4:09 p.m, according to an account on the website of FDNY Marine Company 1.
Fire boats assigned to the box saw "hell was popping" across the river and steamed toward New Jersey.
"In less than fifteen minutes the flames covered an area of a quarter of a mile long, extending outward from the actual short line to the bulk-heads, from six hundred to one thousand feet away," according to an account published in newspapers across the country.
Many of the casualties were trapped on the ships.
Those below deck struggled "in vain to force their way through the small portholes, while the flames pressed relentlessly upon them,” The New York Times reported.
The Graphic newspaper reported: "Decks were strewn with the bodies of those who succumbed to the fierce heat, which speedily made iron an steel red hot."
The piers themselves "entirely disappeared, and in their place was a clearing of blackened tops of piles and a gnarled mass of iron beams, the framework of the tops of the sheds," the Brooklyn Eagle said.
The Hoboken Fire Department lost a hose wagon to the flames.
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