On Monday, we saw this post on Twitter via Boston City Archives:

Over 30 homes were damaged or destroyed by the fire, primarily on Bellflower Street; Dorset, Howell, and Boston Streets were also affected.

Here are the details via the Boston Public Library

On a warm, windy day after several weeks without rain, a resident of Bellflower Street in Dorchester noticed a fire on her neighbor’s back porch and called 911. By the time the first crew of firefighters arrived minutes later, several houses were already engulfed in flames. Within 15 minutes of the 911 call, all available Boston units were called to the scene; 10 minutes after that, a request was placed for assistance to a mutual aid network. Answering the call were 27 nearby cities and towns as well as the US Navy Yard in Charlestown and the Naval Air Station in South Weymouth, who all sent crews to help fight the five-alarm blaze. Garbage collectors working nearby also assisted residents in escaping from homes that were on fire. 

It took eight hours for the fire to be completely put out. When it was over, an entire neighborhood had been destroyed, but miraculously no one was killed. The implementation of the mutual aid network and the use of a flanking technique by the crews were credited with preventing the fire from becoming even worse than it was.

Injured: 31 firefighters, 200 civilians
Property Damage: Over 30 homes were damaged or destroyed, primarily on Bellflower Street; Dorset, Howell, and Boston Streets were also affected.

Cost of Damages: over $750,000 (over $6 million today)
Cause: Theorized to have been caused by a glowing cigarette end or match carried on the wind to and igniting an overstuffed chair on the first-floor back porch of 26 Bellflower Street. Dry conditions and high winds allowed the fire to spread quickly from building to building.
Effects: Hundreds of people were left homeless and had to be relocated. Resource sharing between jurisdictions was held up as the primary reason that the destruction of the fire was not worse.

Check out a video of the Bellflower Street Conflagration below!

Images via Boston City Archives


  1. Laureen GORHAM May 22, 2023 at 4:35 pm - Reply

    Dialing 911 didn’t come into existence until 1968.

  2. Ed Kirby May 23, 2023 at 2:07 pm - Reply

    I came from Dorchester and at the time I was stationed in Montana and it was front page news of the Montana newspapers

  3. Coley May 28, 2023 at 1:28 pm - Reply

    Lived on Boston street at time, was in 1rst grade at St Margarets, vaguely remember looking up Bellflower at the carnage. Couple years later I think the factory across from Rawson street went up, my father lifted us over the back fence to get out. The Fortress stands there now.

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