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The Great Chelsea Fire of 1973

50 Year Anniversary Remembrance Event

Special guests that fought and lived through the fire will share stories and memories. A gallery full of images, video, audio and memorabilia from the fire will be displayed for the public. This event is free.

October 14, 1973

"The center of the fire is the Demoulas shopping center. This is where much of old Chelsea burned in a raging swirl on a windy October 14, with the dust and ashes of this city’s largest ward going up into the sky and being spread across the face of the earth as so much dust.

The entire area burned to a crisp on that day is all part of a much more economically viable Chelsea.

At the time of the fire, the city was cascading into the ground, with most of the buildings that burned vacant, and the businesses unsuitable compared with what exists today.

Also, the city was economically dead, contracting, beaten down by years of neglect and out migration of its first families and major businesses.

One of the reasons the fire did such a thorough job is because the city lacked an adequate water system.

When firefighters attached their hoses to hydrants, most of them didn’t work – and the city nearly burned to the ground on account of it.

In fact, firefighters that day had to run hoses longer than a half mile to working hydrants, using pumpers as transfer stations of sorts to power the water. This was especially true in Bellingham Square on the evening of the fire when the city’s life or death was being held in the balance by the raging fire.

Hoses ran from the Williams School, through Bellingham Square, and up the length of Bellingham Street in order to connect with working hydrants.

Giant burning embers floated through the air – air so thick with smoke it was hard to breathe." 

Chelsea Record Staff. (2009, October 14). Thirty-six years ago – Chelsea Fire of 1973.  Chelsea Record. http://chelsearecord.com/2009/10/14/thirty-six-years-ago-chelsea-fire-of-1973/

Photo Gallery

Photos shared by Paul Koolloian, Photographers Unknown

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