Monday was the anniversary of two devastating American city fires. The first occurred March 21, 1788 in New Orleans and destroyed a staggering 856 of 1,100 structures. The second unfolded March 21, 1916 in Paris, Texas and claimed even more structures: 1,400.
The New Orleans incident is a little too far back in the history books to have been formally observed by media on its anniversary. However, thanks to Dallas Morning News staff writer Deborah Fleck, there is a reminder this week of the Paris disaster and how residents came together at the time to rebuild their community. On Monday, a special 100th anniversary ceremony was held in Paris:
Centennial planners had 100 trees planted to mark the centennial. They also tried to reach out to those with connections to the fire.
Alyce Brunson, the soft-spoken daughter of Jane Spinker Shipp, attended. Shipp was nicknamed “Fire Baby,” because she was born the day of the disaster. “Jane was born in the morning and got separated from her mother when the fire broke out,” Bedford said. “But they got reunited later that night.”
Also in attendance at the Paris centennial event were three grandchildren of firefighter J.M. “Mutt” Cross, who famously had to lie down in a gutter while fighting the 1916 blaze and let the flames pass over him. Fleck also has an interesting statistic about how many of the buildings lost that day were uninsured.