Miss Beauchamp's War in Salonika, item 30

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First paper published after the event.


THE BALKAN NEWS


Price One Penny    Salonica Wednesday, August 22 1917   No 290  Second Year

 

Story of the Salonica Fire


How the Centre of the City

Was Burned Down

----

Extraordinary Scenes

----

(Special Account)


(The following description of the great fire which broke out

on Saturday and was still burning fiercely on Monday is written

by the editor of the Balkan News and has been cabled to London.

The Balkan News was printing until well after ten o'clock on

Saturday night, but at that time the machinists abandoned the

printing press to look after their own affairs. By an extraordinary

chance, such as sometimes occurs in great conflagrations,

this office remains intact in a region which is completely

destroyed. A considerable number of copies of last Sunday's paper,

which was being printed on Saturday night while the fire was in 

the near neighborhood, are intact and will be put into circulation

as soon as possible. For the time being things are very 

disorganised and a good deal of paper has been destroyed, but

it is hoped that the Balkan News will appear regularly, printed

on one page).


Salonica, Monday Aug. 20.

  The old city of Salonica which

during its two thousand years of 

existence has seldom abstained long

from making history has now added 

another moving chapter to its long

tale of war and catastrophe in the 

shape of a most destructive fire which

broke out sometime early on 

Saturday and is still here and

there continuing, although the worst

is over.

  There are two points that should be

made at once namely. ....

.....

.....

that the military damage is nil and

that as far as is at present known

no single British life has been lost

nor have I heard of any loss among

the Allied armies with the exception

of a report that two Greek soldiers

were found dead in a burning building

and there is no confirmation

even of that.

  There is a remarkable coincidence

......

The fire in Salonica broke out 

on Saturday the 18th. On the 17th Monastir

was bombarded by incendiary

shells, two thousand of them falling

in six hours so that 1000 private 

houses were destroyed and the town

had to be completely evacuated.

....

....

....

... The fire seems to have 

started in several places at once and 

it was remarkable how during the

early stages of its progress, when

nobody dreamed that the whole commercial

quarter and centre of the 

city was within a few hours of being 

wiped out, no sooner was the fire 

being tackled in one quarter than it

broke out in another until a stage

was reached when the poor resources

of the city, added to weather conditions

which were absolutely ideal

for the propagation of fire, made disaster

on a large scale inevitable.

  Some 4200 houses and businesses 

including all the hotels and practically

every important commercial 

building in the city have been destroyed

and the number of homeless people is

at present estimated at something between

sixty and a hundred thousand and

if this figure seems high in relation to

the number of houses destroyed it

should be understood that the portion

of the city destroyed largely

consists of the Jewish quarter, which

like every other Ghetto is very 

closely packed with humanity.

A certain number of people lost their

lives but the death roll is certainly

very small. There are also a number

of people missing but there is little

doubt that when the big task of

accomodating and registering the refugees

has been finished a considerable

proportion of these will be found

to be still alive.

  My own attention was first attracted

to the fire shortly after four

on Saturday afternoon. From a flat 

roof about two hundred yards from

the sea one could then see that a 

serious fire was in progress in the

north western part of the city not 

very far from the old walls. But although

it was at once apparent that the

outbreak was a dangerous one and

would certainly spread, fanned as it

was by a strong warm wind that had

already been blowing hard for two

days, there was nothing at that moment

to suggest that in the space of

two hours a big section of the city

would be one blazing roaring

furnace, eating up streets of houses

with extraordinary rapidity and quite

contemptuous of any puny efforts

against it that could be brought to

bear from the resources of Salonica.

At that time the city, except 

for the immediate neighborhood of

the fire was quite undisturbed by the

event.

  From the roof it was quite easy

to see that everything was

apparently normal and nobody

dreamed that before the night was

out their ordinary existence would 

be very violently disturbed.

  This same attitude in varying

degrees marked the whole progress of 

the fire until the moment when it was

burning down to the edge of the sea on

a mile of water front, presenting a

spectacle that was as grand as it 

was lamentable.

  People are always most unwilling 

to believe that their own particular

existences are going to be disturbed

by any untoward happening which

is at the moment only affecting

other people.

  The inhabitants of every separate 

line or section of streets were quite

convinced that the conflagration was

going to pass them by until a

quarter or half an hour later when

they were fleeing for their lives,

bearing all sorts of absurd household

goods snatched up in the last panic

moments.

  Even down to an hour before midnight

many people thought that the water

front might be saved; it seemed absurd

to think that the hotels, cafés cinemas

and other familiar places would 

soon be white hot ruins. The consequence

was that the whole progress

of the fire was a procession of sudden

awakenings among various sections

of the people so that those who had 

come to look with mixed curiosity 

and sympathy on the homeless and

distracted refugees of one hour were

themselves homeless and distracted

an hour later.

  In the hotels people were still dining

at ten o'clock. A little later they

were in the street with what belongings

that could be snatched up 

and were wondering where their

next lodging for the night would be.

Half an hour or so after I first saw

the fire from the roof there came 

the first indication that Salonica

generally was aware that something 

was happening. 

  From the cobbled streets below

came the distracting sound, so 

typical of Salonica of scores of springless

native carts rattling and

bumping along. The threatened citizens

away up the hill were mobilising the

local transport for the conveyance of 

their furniture from the danger area.

  By now it was clear that the fire

was becoming a danger to the whole

native quarter of the city, north of

the famous Rue Egnatia.

  The hot Vardar wind which for 

two whole days had been blowing

without cessation was pushing the

fire along in a straight line west to 

east.

  Everything was bone dry, warm

and in ripe condition for ignition.

The houses in all this quarter of the

city which stretches away up the hill

to the old ramparts, may be described 

as mere combustible material. They 

are old and full of wood, and the fire

raced along them with incredible 

speed. But for the time being it was

proceeding only from west to east, 

and the general opinion then and

later was that only that portion of 

the city north of the Rue Egnatia

was in danger, and that even if the

fire came as far south as the main

street this would prove something of

a barrier and save the commercial 

section of the city from there to the 

sea.

  But when the time came the fire

leaped across the Rue Egnatia without

a pause. It was not a case of

houses catching fire from neighbouring

flames. The Vardar wind blew

before it a sort of forced draught or

incandescent wave which played on

the houses a hundred yards or so in

advance of the actual flames and

prepared them nicely for the burning

so that when the next spark or flake

of fire came along the buildings immediately

began to burn furiously.

  At about six o'clock I went up 

into the fire area beyond the Rue 

Ignatia.

  It was an extraordinary sight, a

scene which but for the sewing

machines and smashed wardrobe

mirrors which littered the narrow

streets and alleys might have been

plucked from Biblical times. In this

part of the Jewish city all the Jews

preserve their ancient costumes and

the streets were full of a many 

coloured crowd of men women and

children, sobbing, shouting and

imploring. Salonica as everybody

now knows is a city of extraordinary

types and here were to be seen

scores of ancient curiously costumed

men any one of whom would have

been welcomed with joy by an 

artist as a model for Shylock.

  The women were wringing their 

hands and crying lamentations such

as no doubt the people of their race

cried thousands of years ago in many

such a scene. From every door and

hole and corner people staggered

bearing all sorts of useless household

goods. Flock and feather beds were

the most favoured; everybody, man,

woman and child, was burdened with 

them and these later helped in the

general destruction as, abandoned in

the last rush nearer the water's edge,

they became so many torches and lit

by wandering sparks carried the 

epidemic on ahead.

  After beds the most favoured articles 

of salvage were sewing machines,

wardrobes, particularly the mirrored 

doors, and any other piece of furniture

that was large and bulky. It 

is impossible to paint a description

of this frantic crowd trying to save

its treasured rubbish, much of it German,

amid the rush and uproar of

the flames the crying of distracted

and terrified people, and the shouts

of drivers who had dragged their 

carts across the narrow streets;

and amid all this staggered hundreds

of native porters or hamals who

had also been mobilised, who carried

on their backs the most extraordinary

variety of heavy and bulky loads.

  To combat the fire in this quarter

there were a few ancient boxes misnamed

fire engines, worked by 

handles. One of them was marked 

Sun Fire Office 1710 and it must certainly 

have been the original model.

But even if the engines were any

good the water was scarce or non-existent.

From time to time new patrols 

of troops of various allies come up 

and here and there officers were attempting

to organise and direct operations.

  But everything was against them;

the crowds; the people; the narrow, 

jammed streets; the lack of anything

useful and above all the fire,

which would have needed the best

that London or New York can do to

cope with it.

  There were many pitiable scenes but

there was no time to think about them.

And it is only fair to the people

to say that they behaved very well.

There was never any real frantic

panic; only grief and wailing, and

later on in the night, when it seemed

Transcription saved

First paper published after the event.


THE BALKAN NEWS


Price One Penny    Salonica Wednesday, August 22 1917   No 290  Second Year

 

Story of the Salonica Fire


How the Centre of the City

Was Burned Down

----

Extraordinary Scenes

----

(Special Account)


(The following description of the great fire which broke out

on Saturday and was still burning fiercely on Monday is written

by the editor of the Balkan News and has been cabled to London.

The Balkan News was printing until well after ten o'clock on

Saturday night, but at that time the machinists abandoned the

printing press to look after their own affairs. By an extraordinary

chance, such as sometimes occurs in great conflagrations,

this office remains intact in a region which is completely

destroyed. A considerable number of copies of last Sunday's paper,

which was being printed on Saturday night while the fire was in 

the near neighborhood, are intact and will be put into circulation

as soon as possible. For the time being things are very 

disorganised and a good deal of paper has been destroyed, but

it is hoped that the Balkan News will appear regularly, printed

on one page).


Salonica, Monday Aug. 20.

  The old city of Salonica which

during its two thousand years of 

existence has seldom abstained long

from making history has now added 

another moving chapter to its long

tale of war and catastrophe in the 

shape of a most destructive fire which

broke out sometime early on 

Saturday and is still here and

there continuing, although the worst

is over.

  There are two points that should be

made at once namely. ....

.....

.....

that the military damage is nil and

that as far as is at present known

no single British life has been lost

nor have I heard of any loss among

the Allied armies with the exception

of a report that two Greek soldiers

were found dead in a burning building

and there is no confirmation

even of that.

  There is a remarkable coincidence

......

The fire in Salonica broke out 

on Saturday the 18th. On the 17th Monastir

was bombarded by incendiary

shells, two thousand of them falling

in six hours so that 1000 private 

houses were destroyed and the town

had to be completely evacuated.

....

....

....

... The fire seems to have 

started in several places at once and 

it was remarkable how during the

early stages of its progress, when

nobody dreamed that the whole commercial

quarter and centre of the 

city was within a few hours of being 

wiped out, no sooner was the fire 

being tackled in one quarter than it

broke out in another until a stage

was reached when the poor resources

of the city, added to weather conditions

which were absolutely ideal

for the propagation of fire, made disaster

on a large scale inevitable.

  Some 4200 houses and businesses 

including all the hotels and practically

every important commercial 

building in the city have been destroyed

and the number of homeless people is

at present estimated at something between

sixty and a hundred thousand and

if this figure seems high in relation to

the number of houses destroyed it

should be understood that the portion

of the city destroyed largely

consists of the Jewish quarter, which

like every other Ghetto is very 

closely packed with humanity.

A certain number of people lost their

lives but the death roll is certainly

very small. There are also a number

of people missing but there is little

doubt that when the big task of

accomodating and registering the refugees

has been finished a considerable

proportion of these will be found

to be still alive.

  My own attention was first attracted

to the fire shortly after four

on Saturday afternoon. From a flat 

roof about two hundred yards from

the sea one could then see that a 

serious fire was in progress in the

north western part of the city not 

very far from the old walls. But although

it was at once apparent that the

outbreak was a dangerous one and

would certainly spread, fanned as it

was by a strong warm wind that had

already been blowing hard for two

days, there was nothing at that moment

to suggest that in the space of

two hours a big section of the city

would be one blazing roaring

furnace, eating up streets of houses

with extraordinary rapidity and quite

contemptuous of any puny efforts

against it that could be brought to

bear from the resources of Salonica.

At that time the city, except 

for the immediate neighborhood of

the fire was quite undisturbed by the

event.

  From the roof it was quite easy

to see that everything was

apparently normal and nobody

dreamed that before the night was

out their ordinary existence would 

be very violently disturbed.

  This same attitude in varying

degrees marked the whole progress of 

the fire until the moment when it was

burning down to the edge of the sea on

a mile of water front, presenting a

spectacle that was as grand as it 

was lamentable.

  People are always most unwilling 

to believe that their own particular

existences are going to be disturbed

by any untoward happening which

is at the moment only affecting

other people.

  The inhabitants of every separate 

line or section of streets were quite

convinced that the conflagration was

going to pass them by until a

quarter or half an hour later when

they were fleeing for their lives,

bearing all sorts of absurd household

goods snatched up in the last panic

moments.

  Even down to an hour before midnight

many people thought that the water

front might be saved; it seemed absurd

to think that the hotels, cafés cinemas

and other familiar places would 

soon be white hot ruins. The consequence

was that the whole progress

of the fire was a procession of sudden

awakenings among various sections

of the people so that those who had 

come to look with mixed curiosity 

and sympathy on the homeless and

distracted refugees of one hour were

themselves homeless and distracted

an hour later.

  In the hotels people were still dining

at ten o'clock. A little later they

were in the street with what belongings

that could be snatched up 

and were wondering where their

next lodging for the night would be.

Half an hour or so after I first saw

the fire from the roof there came 

the first indication that Salonica

generally was aware that something 

was happening. 

  From the cobbled streets below

came the distracting sound, so 

typical of Salonica of scores of springless

native carts rattling and

bumping along. The threatened citizens

away up the hill were mobilising the

local transport for the conveyance of 

their furniture from the danger area.

  By now it was clear that the fire

was becoming a danger to the whole

native quarter of the city, north of

the famous Rue Egnatia.

  The hot Vardar wind which for 

two whole days had been blowing

without cessation was pushing the

fire along in a straight line west to 

east.

  Everything was bone dry, warm

and in ripe condition for ignition.

The houses in all this quarter of the

city which stretches away up the hill

to the old ramparts, may be described 

as mere combustible material. They 

are old and full of wood, and the fire

raced along them with incredible 

speed. But for the time being it was

proceeding only from west to east, 

and the general opinion then and

later was that only that portion of 

the city north of the Rue Egnatia

was in danger, and that even if the

fire came as far south as the main

street this would prove something of

a barrier and save the commercial 

section of the city from there to the 

sea.

  But when the time came the fire

leaped across the Rue Egnatia without

a pause. It was not a case of

houses catching fire from neighbouring

flames. The Vardar wind blew

before it a sort of forced draught or

incandescent wave which played on

the houses a hundred yards or so in

advance of the actual flames and

prepared them nicely for the burning

so that when the next spark or flake

of fire came along the buildings immediately

began to burn furiously.

  At about six o'clock I went up 

into the fire area beyond the Rue 

Ignatia.

  It was an extraordinary sight, a

scene which but for the sewing

machines and smashed wardrobe

mirrors which littered the narrow

streets and alleys might have been

plucked from Biblical times. In this

part of the Jewish city all the Jews

preserve their ancient costumes and

the streets were full of a many 

coloured crowd of men women and

children, sobbing, shouting and

imploring. Salonica as everybody

now knows is a city of extraordinary

types and here were to be seen

scores of ancient curiously costumed

men any one of whom would have

been welcomed with joy by an 

artist as a model for Shylock.

  The women were wringing their 

hands and crying lamentations such

as no doubt the people of their race

cried thousands of years ago in many

such a scene. From every door and

hole and corner people staggered

bearing all sorts of useless household

goods. Flock and feather beds were

the most favoured; everybody, man,

woman and child, was burdened with 

them and these later helped in the

general destruction as, abandoned in

the last rush nearer the water's edge,

they became so many torches and lit

by wandering sparks carried the 

epidemic on ahead.

  After beds the most favoured articles 

of salvage were sewing machines,

wardrobes, particularly the mirrored 

doors, and any other piece of furniture

that was large and bulky. It 

is impossible to paint a description

of this frantic crowd trying to save

its treasured rubbish, much of it German,

amid the rush and uproar of

the flames the crying of distracted

and terrified people, and the shouts

of drivers who had dragged their 

carts across the narrow streets;

and amid all this staggered hundreds

of native porters or hamals who

had also been mobilised, who carried

on their backs the most extraordinary

variety of heavy and bulky loads.

  To combat the fire in this quarter

there were a few ancient boxes misnamed

fire engines, worked by 

handles. One of them was marked 

Sun Fire Office 1710 and it must certainly 

have been the original model.

But even if the engines were any

good the water was scarce or non-existent.

From time to time new patrols 

of troops of various allies come up 

and here and there officers were attempting

to organise and direct operations.

  But everything was against them;

the crowds; the people; the narrow, 

jammed streets; the lack of anything

useful and above all the fire,

which would have needed the best

that London or New York can do to

cope with it.

  There were many pitiable scenes but

there was no time to think about them.

And it is only fair to the people

to say that they behaved very well.

There was never any real frantic

panic; only grief and wailing, and

later on in the night, when it seemed


Transcription history
  • August 2, 2019 01:35:27 Thomas A. Lingner

    First paper published after the event.


    THE BALKAN NEWS


    Price One Penny    Salonica Wednesday, August 22 1917   No 290  Second Year

     

    Story of the Salonica Fire


    How the Centre of the City

    Was Burned Down

    ----

    Extraordinary Scenes

    ----

    (Special Account)


    (The following description of the great fire which broke out

    on Saturday and was still burning fiercely on Monday is written

    by the editor of the Balkan News and has been cabled to London.

    The Balkan News was printing until well after ten o'clock on

    Saturday night, but at that time the machinists abandoned the

    printing press to look after their own affairs. By an extraordinary

    chance, such as sometimes occurs in great conflagrations,

    this office remains intact in a region which is completely

    destroyed. A considerable number of copies of last Sunday's paper,

    which was being printed on Saturday night while the fire was in 

    the near neighborhood, are intact and will be put into circulation

    as soon as possible. For the time being things are very 

    disorganised and a good deal of paper has been destroyed, but

    it is hoped that the Balkan News will appear regularly, printed

    on one page).


    Salonica, Monday Aug. 20.

      The old city of Salonica which

    during its two thousand years of 

    existence has seldom abstained long

    from making history has now added 

    another moving chapter to its long

    tale of war and catastrophe in the 

    shape of a most destructive fire which

    broke out sometime early on 

    Saturday and is still here and

    there continuing, although the worst

    is over.

      There are two points that should be

    made at once namely. ....

    .....

    .....

    that the military damage is nil and

    that as far as is at present known

    no single British life has been lost

    nor have I heard of any loss among

    the Allied armies with the exception

    of a report that two Greek soldiers

    were found dead in a burning building

    and there is no confirmation

    even of that.

      There is a remarkable coincidence

    ......

    The fire in Salonica broke out 

    on Saturday the 18th. On the 17th Monastir

    was bombarded by incendiary

    shells, two thousand of them falling

    in six hours so that 1000 private 

    houses were destroyed and the town

    had to be completely evacuated.

    ....

    ....

    ....

    ... The fire seems to have 

    started in several places at once and 

    it was remarkable how during the

    early stages of its progress, when

    nobody dreamed that the whole commercial

    quarter and centre of the 

    city was within a few hours of being 

    wiped out, no sooner was the fire 

    being tackled in one quarter than it

    broke out in another until a stage

    was reached when the poor resources

    of the city, added to weather conditions

    which were absolutely ideal

    for the propagation of fire, made disaster

    on a large scale inevitable.

      Some 4200 houses and businesses 

    including all the hotels and practically

    every important commercial 

    building in the city have been destroyed

    and the number of homeless people is

    at present estimated at something between

    sixty and a hundred thousand and

    if this figure seems high in relation to

    the number of houses destroyed it

    should be understood that the portion

    of the city destroyed largely

    consists of the Jewish quarter, which

    like every other Ghetto is very 

    closely packed with humanity.

    A certain number of people lost their

    lives but the death roll is certainly

    very small. There are also a number

    of people missing but there is little

    doubt that when the big task of

    accomodating and registering the refugees

    has been finished a considerable

    proportion of these will be found

    to be still alive.

      My own attention was first attracted

    to the fire shortly after four

    on Saturday afternoon. From a flat 

    roof about two hundred yards from

    the sea one could then see that a 

    serious fire was in progress in the

    north western part of the city not 

    very far from the old walls. But although

    it was at once apparent that the

    outbreak was a dangerous one and

    would certainly spread, fanned as it

    was by a strong warm wind that had

    already been blowing hard for two

    days, there was nothing at that moment

    to suggest that in the space of

    two hours a big section of the city

    would be one blazing roaring

    furnace, eating up streets of houses

    with extraordinary rapidity and quite

    contemptuous of any puny efforts

    against it that could be brought to

    bear from the resources of Salonica.

    At that time the city, except 

    for the immediate neighborhood of

    the fire was quite undisturbed by the

    event.

      From the roof it was quite easy

    to see that everything was

    apparently normal and nobody

    dreamed that before the night was

    out their ordinary existence would 

    be very violently disturbed.

      This same attitude in varying

    degrees marked the whole progress of 

    the fire until the moment when it was

    burning down to the edge of the sea on

    a mile of water front, presenting a

    spectacle that was as grand as it 

    was lamentable.

      People are always most unwilling 

    to believe that their own particular

    existences are going to be disturbed

    by any untoward happening which

    is at the moment only affecting

    other people.

      The inhabitants of every separate 

    line or section of streets were quite

    convinced that the conflagration was

    going to pass them by until a

    quarter or half an hour later when

    they were fleeing for their lives,

    bearing all sorts of absurd household

    goods snatched up in the last panic

    moments.

      Even down to an hour before midnight

    many people thought that the water

    front might be saved; it seemed absurd

    to think that the hotels, cafés cinemas

    and other familiar places would 

    soon be white hot ruins. The consequence

    was that the whole progress

    of the fire was a procession of sudden

    awakenings among various sections

    of the people so that those who had 

    come to look with mixed curiosity 

    and sympathy on the homeless and

    distracted refugees of one hour were

    themselves homeless and distracted

    an hour later.

      In the hotels people were still dining

    at ten o'clock. A little later they

    were in the street with what belongings

    that could be snatched up 

    and were wondering where their

    next lodging for the night would be.

    Half an hour or so after I first saw

    the fire from the roof there came 

    the first indication that Salonica

    generally was aware that something 

    was happening. 

      From the cobbled streets below

    came the distracting sound, so 

    typical of Salonica of scores of springless

    native carts rattling and

    bumping along. The threatened citizens

    away up the hill were mobilising the

    local transport for the conveyance of 

    their furniture from the danger area.

      By now it was clear that the fire

    was becoming a danger to the whole

    native quarter of the city, north of

    the famous Rue Egnatia.

      The hot Vardar wind which for 

    two whole days had been blowing

    without cessation was pushing the

    fire along in a straight line west to 

    east.

      Everything was bone dry, warm

    and in ripe condition for ignition.

    The houses in all this quarter of the

    city which stretches away up the hill

    to the old ramparts, may be described 

    as mere combustible material. They 

    are old and full of wood, and the fire

    raced along them with incredible 

    speed. But for the time being it was

    proceeding only from west to east, 

    and the general opinion then and

    later was that only that portion of 

    the city north of the Rue Egnatia

    was in danger, and that even if the

    fire came as far south as the main

    street this would prove something of

    a barrier and save the commercial 

    section of the city from there to the 

    sea.

      But when the time came the fire

    leaped across the Rue Egnatia without

    a pause. It was not a case of

    houses catching fire from neighbouring

    flames. The Vardar wind blew

    before it a sort of forced draught or

    incandescent wave which played on

    the houses a hundred yards or so in

    advance of the actual flames and

    prepared them nicely for the burning

    so that when the next spark or flake

    of fire came along the buildings immediately

    began to burn furiously.

      At about six o'clock I went up 

    into the fire area beyond the Rue 

    Ignatia.

      It was an extraordinary sight, a

    scene which but for the sewing

    machines and smashed wardrobe

    mirrors which littered the narrow

    streets and alleys might have been

    plucked from Biblical times. In this

    part of the Jewish city all the Jews

    preserve their ancient costumes and

    the streets were full of a many 

    coloured crowd of men women and

    children, sobbing, shouting and

    imploring. Salonica as everybody

    now knows is a city of extraordinary

    types and here were to be seen

    scores of ancient curiously costumed

    men any one of whom would have

    been welcomed with joy by an 

    artist as a model for Shylock.

      The women were wringing their 

    hands and crying lamentations such

    as no doubt the people of their race

    cried thousands of years ago in many

    such a scene. From every door and

    hole and corner people staggered

    bearing all sorts of useless household

    goods. Flock and feather beds were

    the most favoured; everybody, man,

    woman and child, was burdened with 

    them and these later helped in the

    general destruction as, abandoned in

    the last rush nearer the water's edge,

    they became so many torches and lit

    by wandering sparks carried the 

    epidemic on ahead.

      After beds the most favoured articles 

    of salvage were sewing machines,

    wardrobes, particularly the mirrored 

    doors, and any other piece of furniture

    that was large and bulky. It 

    is impossible to paint a description

    of this frantic crowd trying to save

    its treasured rubbish, much of it German,

    amid the rush and uproar of

    the flames the crying of distracted

    and terrified people, and the shouts

    of drivers who had dragged their 

    carts across the narrow streets;

    and amid all this staggered hundreds

    of native porters or hamals who

    had also been mobilised, who carried

    on their backs the most extraordinary

    variety of heavy and bulky loads.

      To combat the fire in this quarter

    there were a few ancient boxes misnamed

    fire engines, worked by 

    handles. One of them was marked 

    Sun Fire Office 1710 and it must certainly 

    have been the original model.

    But even if the engines were any

    good the water was scarce or non-existent.

    From time to time new patrols 

    of troops of various allies come up 

    and here and there officers were attempting

    to organise and direct operations.

      But everything was against them;

    the crowds; the people; the narrow, 

    jammed streets; the lack of anything

    useful and above all the fire,

    which would have needed the best

    that London or New York can do to

    cope with it.

      There were many pitiable scenes but

    there was no time to think about them.

    And it is only fair to the people

    to say that they behaved very well.

    There was never any real frantic

    panic; only grief and wailing, and

    later on in the night, when it seemed

  • August 2, 2019 01:28:51 Thomas A. Lingner

    First paper published after the event.


    THE BALKAN NEWS


    Price One Penny    Salonica Wednesday, August 22 1917   No 290  Second Year

     

    Story of the Salonica Fire


    How the Centre of the City

    Was Burned Down

    ----

    Extraordinary Scenes

    ----

    (Special Account)


    (The following description of the great fire which broke out

    on Saturday and was still burning fiercely on Monday is written

    by the editor of the Balkan News and has been cabled to London.

    The Balkan News was printing until well after ten o'clock on

    Saturday night, but at that time the machinists abandoned the

    printing press to look after their own affairs. By an extraordinary

    chance, such as sometimes occurs in great conflagrations,

    this office remains intact in a region which is completely

    destroyed. A considerable number of copies of last Sunday's paper,

    which was being printed on Saturday night while the fire was in 

    the near neighborhood, are intact and will be put into circulation

    as soon as possible. For the time being things are very 

    disorganised and a good deal of paper has been destroyed, but

    it is hoped that the Balkan News will appear regularly, printed

    on one page).


    Salonica, Monday Aug. 20.

      The old city of Salonica which

    during its two thousand years of 

    existence has seldom abstained long

    from making history has now added 

    another moving chapter to its long

    tale of war and catastrophe in the 

    shape of a most destructive fire which

    broke out sometime early on 

    Saturday and is still here and

    there continuing, although the worst

    is over.

      There are two points that should be

    made at once namely. ....

    .....

    .....

    that the military damage is nil and

    that as far as is at present known

    no single British life has been lost

    nor have I heard of any loss among

    the Allied armies with the exception

    of a report that two Greek soldiers

    were found dead in a burning building

    and there is no confirmation

    even of that.

      There is a remarkable coincidence

    ......

    The fire in Salonica broke out 

    on Saturday the 18th. On the 17th Monastir

    was bombarded by incendiary

    shells, two thousand of them falling

    in six hours so that 1000 private 

    houses were destroyed and the town

    had to be completely evacuated.

    ....

    ....

    ....

    ... The fire seems to have 

    started in several places at once and 

    it was remarkable how during the

    early stages of its progress, when

    nobody dreamed that the whole commercial

    quarter and centre of the 

    city was within a few hours of being 

    wiped out, no sooner was the fire 

    being tackled in one quarter than it

    broke out in another until a stage

    was reached when the poor resources

    of the city, added to weather conditions

    which were absolutely ideal

    for the propagation of fire, made disaster

    on a large scale inevitable.

      Some 4200 houses and businesses 

    including all the hotels and practically

    every important commercial 

    building in the city have been destroyed

    and the number of homeless people is

    at present estimated at something between

    sixty and a hundred thousand and

    if this figure seems high in relation to

    the number of houses destroyed it

    should be understood that the portion

    of the city destroyed largely

    consists of the Jewish quarter, which

    like every other Ghetto is very 

    closely packed with humanity.

    A certain number of people lost their

    lives but the death roll is certainly

    very small. There are also a number

    of people missing but there is little

    doubt that when the big task of

    accomodating and registering the refugees

    has been finished a considerable

    proportion of these will be found

    to be still alive.

      My own attention was first attracted

    to the fire shortly after four

    on Saturday afternoon. From a flat 

    roof about two hundred yards from

    the sea one could then see that a 

    serious fire was in progress in the

    north western part of the city not 

    very far from the old walls. But although

    it was at once apparent that the

    outbreak was a dangerous one and

    would certainly spread, fanned as it

    was by a strong warm wind that had

    already been blowing hard for two

    days, there was nothing at that moment

    to suggest that in the space of

    two hours a big section of the city

    would be one blazing roaring

    furnace, eating up streets of houses

    with extraordinary rapidity and quite

    contemptuous of any puny efforts

    against it that could be brought to

    bear from the resources of Salonica.

    At that time the city, except 

    for the immediate neighborhood of

    the fire was quite undisturbed by the

    event.

      From the roof it was quite easy

    to see that everything was

    apparently normal and nobody

    dreamed that before the night was

    out their ordinary existence would 

    be very violently disturbed.

      This same attitude in varying

    degrees marked the whole progress of 

    the fire until the moment when it was

    burning down to the edge of the sea on

    a mile of water front, presenting a

    spectacle that was as grand as it 

    was lamentable.

      People are always most unwilling 

    to believe that their own particular

    existences are going to be disturbed

    by any untoward happening which

    is at the moment only affecting

    other people.

      The inhabitants of every separate 

    line or section of streets were quite

    convinced that the conflagration was

    going to pass them by until a

    quarter or half an hour later when

    they were fleeing for their lives,

    bearing all sorts of absurd household

    goods snatched up in the last panic

    moments.

      Even down to an hour before midnight

    many people thought that the water

    front might be saved; it seemed absurd

    to think that the hotels, cafés cinemas

    and other familiar places would 

    soon be white hot ruins. The consequence

    was that the whole progress

    of the fire was a procession of sudden

    awakenings among various sections

    of the people so that those who had 

    come to look with mixed curiosity 

    and sympathy on the homeless and

    distracted refugees of one hour were

    themselves homeless and distracted

    an hour later.

      In the hotels people were still dining

    at ten o'clock. A little later they

    were in the street with what belongings

    that could be snatched up 

    and were wondering where their

    next lodging for the night would be.

    Half an hour or so after I first saw

    the fire from the roof there came 

    the first indication that Salonica

    generally was aware that something 

    was happening. 

      From the cobbled streets below

    came the distracting sound, so 

    typical of Salonica of scores of springless

    native carts rattling and

    bumping along. The threatened citizens

    away up the hill were mobilising the

    local transport for the conveyance of 

    their furniture from the danger area.

      By now it was clear that the fire

    was becoming a danger to the whole

    native quarter of the city, north of

    the famous Rue Egnatia.

      The hot Vardar wind which for 

    two whole days had been blowing

    without cessation was pushing the

    fire along in a straight line west to 

    east.

      Everything was bone dry, warm

    and in ripe condition for ignition.

    The houses in all this quarter of the

    city which stretches away up the hill

    to the old ramparts, may be described 

    as mere combustible material. They 

    are old and full of wood, and the fire

    raced along them with incredible 

    speed. But for the time being it was

    proceeding only from west to east, 

    and the general opinion then and

    later was that only that portion of 

    the city north of the Rue Egnatia

    was in danger, and that even if the

    fire came as far south as the main

    street this would prove something of

    a barrier and save the commercial 

    section of the city from there to the 

    sea.

      But when the time came the fire

    leaped across the Rue Egnatia without

    a pause. It was not a case of

    houses catching fire from neighbouring

    flames. The Vardar wind blew

    before it a sort of forced draught or

    incandescent wave which played on

    the houses a hundred yards or so in

    advance of the actual flames and

    prepared them nicely for the burning

    so that when the next spark or flake

    of fire came along the buildings immediately

    began to burn furiously.

      At about six o'clock I went up 

    into the fire area beyond the Rue 

    Ignatia.

      It was an extraordinary sight, a

    scene which but for the sewing

    machines and smashed wardrobe

    mirrors which littered the narrow

    streets and alleys might have been

    plucked from Biblical times. In this

    part of the Jewish city all the Jews

    preserve their ancient costumes and

    the streets were full of a many 

    coloured crowd of men women and

    children, sobbing, shouting and

    imploring. Salonica as everybody

    now knows is a city of extraordinary

    types and here were to be seen

    scores of ancient curiously costumed

    men any one of whom would have

    been welcomed with joy by an 

    artist as a model for Shylock.

      The women were wringing their 

    hands and crying lamentations such

    as no doubt the people of their race

    cried thousands of years ago in many

    such a scene. From every door and

    hole and corner people staggered

    bearing all sorts of useless household

    goods. Flock and feather beds were

    the most favoured; everybody, man,

    woman and child


  • August 1, 2019 22:59:42 Thomas A. Lingner

    First paper published after the event.


    THE BALKAN NEWS


    Price One Penny    Salonica Wednesday, August 22 1917   No 290  Second Year

     

    Story of the Salonica Fire


    How the Centre of the City

    Was Burned Down

    ----

    Extraordinary Scenes

    ----

    (Special Account)


    (The following description of the great fire which broke out

    on Saturday and was still burning fiercely on Monday is written

    by the editor of the Balkan News and has been cabled to London.

    The Balkan News was printing until well after ten o'clock on

    Saturday night, but at that time the machinists abandoned the

    printing press to look after their own affairs. By an extraordinary

    chance, such as sometimes occurs in great conflagrations,

    this office remains intact in a region which is completely

    destroyed. A considerable number of copies of last Sunday's paper,

    which was being printed on Saturday night while the fire was in 

    the near neighborhood, are intact and will be put into circulation

    as soon as possible. For the time being things are very 

    disorganised and a good deal of paper has been destroyed, but

    it is hoped that the Balkan News will appear regularly, printed

    on one page).


    Salonica, Monday Aug. 20.

      The old city of Salonica which

    during its two thousand years of 

    existence has seldom abstained long

    from making history has now added 

    another moving chapter to its long

    tale of war and catastrophe in the 

    shape of a most destructive fire which

    broke out sometime early on 

    Saturday and is still here and

    there continuing, although the worst

    is over.

      There are two points that should be

    made at once namely. ....

    .....

    .....

    that the military damage is nil and

    that as far as is at present known

    no single British life has been lost

    nor have I heard of any loss among

    the Allied armies with the exception

    of a report that two Greek soldiers

    were found dead in a burning building

    and there is no confirmation

    even of that.

      There is a remarkable coincidence

    ......

    The fire in Salonica broke out 

    on Saturday the 18th. On the 17th Monastir

    was bombarded by incendiary

    shells, two thousand of them falling

    in six hours so that 1000 private 

    houses were destroyed and the town

    had to be completely evacuated.

    ....

    ....

    ....

    ... The fire seems to have 

    started in several places at once and 

    it was remarkable how during the

    early stages of its progress, when

    nobody dreamed that the whole commercial

    quarter and centre of the 

    city was within a few hours of being 

    wiped out, no sooner was the fire 

    being tackled in one quarter than it

    broke out in another until a stage

    was reached when the poor resources

    of the city, added to weather conditions

    which were absolutely ideal

    for the propagation of fire, made disaster

    on a large scale inevitable.

      Some 4200 houses and businesses 

    including all the hotels and practically

    every important commercial 

    building in the city have been destroyed

    and the number of homeless people is

    at present estimated at something between

    sixty and a hundred thousand and

    if this figure seems high in relation to

    the number of houses destroyed it

    should be understood that the portion

    of the city destroyed largely

    consists of the Jewish quarter, which

    like every other Ghetto is very 

    closely packed with humanity.

    A certain number of people lost their

    lives but the death roll is certainly

    very small. There are also a number

    of people missing but there is little

    doubt that when the big task of

    accomodating and registering the refugees

    has been finished a considerable

    proportion of these will be found

    to be still alive.

      My own attention was first attracted

    to the fire shortly after four

    on Saturday afternoon. From a flat 

    roof about two hundred yards from

    the sea one could then see that a 

    serious fire was in progress in the

    north western part of the city not 

    very far from the old walls. But although

    it was at once apparent that the

    outbreak was a dangerous one and

    would certainly spread, fanned as it

    was by a strong warm wind that had

    already been blowing hard for two

    days, there was nothing at that moment

    to suggest that in the space of

    two hours a big section of the city

    would be one blazing roaring

    furnace, eating up streets of houses

    with extraordinary rapidity and quite

    contemptuous of any puny efforts

    against it that could be brought to

    bear from the resources of Salonica.

    At that time the city, except 

    for the immediate neighborhood of

    the fire was quite undisturbed by the

    event.

      From the roof it was quite easy

    to see that everything was

    apparently normal and nobody

    dreamed that before the night was

    out


  • August 1, 2019 22:55:46 Thomas A. Lingner

    First paper published after the event.


    THE BALKAN NEWS


    Price One Penny    Salonica Wednesday, August 22 1917   No 290  Second Year

     

    Story of the Salonica Fire


    How the Centre of the City

    Was Burned Down

    ----

    Extraordinary Scenes

    ----

    (Special Account)


    (The following description of the great fire which broke out

    on Saturday and was still burning fiercely on Monday is written

    by the editor of the Balkan News and has been cabled to London.

    The Balkan News was printing until well after ten o'clock on

    Saturday night, but at that time the machinists abandoned the

    printing press to look after their own affairs. By an extraordinary

    chance, such as sometimes occurs in great conflagrations,

    this office remains intact in a region which is completely

    destroyed. A considerable number of copies of last Sunday's paper,

    which was being printed on Saturday night while the fire was in 

    the near neighborhood, are intact and will be put into circulation

    as soon as possible. For the time being things are very 

    disorganised and a good deal of paper has been destroyed, but

    it is hoped that the Balkan News will appear regularly, printed

    on one page).


    Salonica, Monday Aug. 20.

      The old city of Salonica which

    during its two thousand years of 

    existence has seldom abstained long

    from making history has now added 

    another moving chapter to its long

    tale of war and catastrophe in the 

    shape of a most destructive fire which

    broke out sometime early on 

    Saturday and is still here and

    there continuing, although the worst

    is over.

      There are two points that should be

    made at once namely. ....

    .....

    .....

    that the military damage is nil and

    that as far as is at present known

    no single British life has been lost

    nor have I heard of any loss among

    the Allied armies with the exception

    of a report that two Greek soldiers

    were found dead in a burning building

    and there is no confirmation

    even of that.

      There is a remarkable coincidence

    ......

    The fire in Salonica broke out 

    on Saturday the 18th. On the 17th Monastir

    was bombarded by incendiary

    shells, two thousand of them falling

    in six hours so that 1000 private 

    houses were destroyed and the town

    had to be completely evacuated.

    ....

    ....

    ....

    ... The fire seems to have 

    started in several places at once and 

    it was remarkable how during the

    early stages of its progress, when

    nobody dreamed that the whole commercial

    quarter and centre of the 

    city was within a few hours of being 

    wiped out, no sooner was the fire 

    being tackled in one quarter than it

    broke out in another until a stage

    was reached when the poor resources

    of the city, added to weather conditions

    which were absolutely ideal

    for the propagation of fire, made disaster

    on a large scale inevitable.

      Some 4200 houses and businesses 

    including all the hotels and practically

    every important commercial 

    building in the city have been destroyed

    and the number of homeless people is

    at present estimated at something between

    sixty and a hundred thousand and

    if this figure seems high in relation to

    the number of houses destroyed it

    should be understood that the portion

    of the city destroyed largely

    consists of the Jewish quarter, which

    like every other Ghetto is very 

    closely packed with humanity.

    A certain number of people lost their

    lives but the death roll is certainly

    very small. There are also a number

    of people missing but there is little

    doubt that when the big task of

    accomodating and registering the refugees

    has been finished a considerable

    proportion of these will be found

    to be still alive.

      


Description

Save description
  • 40.6400629||22.944419100000005||

    Salonika

    ||1
Location(s)
  • Story location Salonika


ID
19509 / 221734
Source
http://europeana1914-1918.eu/...
Contributor
Sarah Wedderburn
License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/



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