Heavy Loss in Cannery Fire
A huge column of black smoke, visible for 20 miles, signalized the destruction of two “Cannery Row” plants in Monterey, Calif., Sunday, October 25th, resulting in a property loss of $400,000.
Almost totally destroyed were the plants of the Sea Beach Canning Co. and the Custom House Packing Corp. A third plant, that of Carmel Packing Co., was seriously threatened by flames but’damage was confined to charred roof timbers. Some 30 guests of the threestory Ocean View Hotel were evacuated but the wooden structure, to the west or windward side of the fire, was saved.
The fire started in an upstairs warehouse at the Sea Beach plant from an unknown cause. The alarm was received at 3:48 P.M. from the automatic signal system in the cannery. Within minutes the flames roared back from the front of the building to the rear, a distance of 200 feet. There were 18,000 fiber and paper cartons and large stocks of labels in the storage room, which fed the flames.
From the Sea Beach plant the flames quickly communicated to the Custom House Cannery, next door. The Sea Beach plant was fully equipped and ready to operate but had not packed, due to the shortage of fish. It was valued at over $300,000. The Custom House Cannery, once valued at $400,000, was not equipped, the machinery having been sold a year ago.
Nine Peninsula Fire companies and the Monterey fireboat responded to the general alarm, pouring over 9,000 gallons of water per minute in the hour-long fight to control the raging blaze. One hundred and ten men, including a Navy detachment, were on the fire lines during the struggle.
The cloud of smoke, and the spread of the news about the fire, brought a crowd of 3,000 spectators, requiring extra police from Monterey and the Pacific Grove departments to control them.
The efforts of the firemen were successful in confining the threatening blaze to the two cannery plants but fears were expressed early in the fire that the entire area, with its many wooden buildings, would be involved.
Photos by William L. Morgan