Portland’s Greatest Conflagration: The 1866 Fire Disaster (Daicy & Whitney)

I read about this during a recent trip to Maine, and I wanted to learn more. I thought, perhaps, there might even be a story in it, but Anita Shreve beat me to it. Still, it was an interesting piece of local history. Two firefighters got together to defend their vocational (and, in one case, perhaps familial) ancestors from accusations that they’d mishandled the fire and allowed it to become something larger than it needed to be.

Initially, I thought their profession tainted their efforts, but Daicy and Whitney make for fine historians as well. By using primary sources and pointing out the consistency of the contemporary accounts, they point to the numerous factors, both natural and man-made that caused this conflagration.

I was inspired by not just the pride of the firemen (both then and now), but also of the city during its efforts to rebuild, as well as the support of neighboring cities, as far away as Boston, who helped the city battle the fire and then recover.


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