Hazards and Disasters


Was San Francisco destroyed by earthquake or by fire in 1906?

In 1906 a very powerful earthquake struck San Francisco, California, which sparked a fire that destroyed much of the city. In an effort to preserve San Francisco’s image with residents and would-be visitors, official policy regarding the disaster stated that it was not the earthquake but mostly the fire that destroyed the city. Official books and publications produced after the earthquake referred to both the fire and the earthquake as having caused the damage. In fact, the earthquake did considerable damage to the city and killed hundreds.


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