Fires in Historic Oakwood
Compiled by Mike Legeros
Created November 23, 2014
This page presents research by Mike Legeros that attempts to answer the question "how many fires have happened in Historic Oakwood."
The question was posted by The Society For the Preservation of Historic Oakwood, in advance of their annual Candlelight Tour in 2014. He accepted the challenge and conducted six weeks of subsequent research.
His parameters for inclusion were:
His sources included Oakwood historian Matthew Brown, News & Observer and Raleigh Times stories, Raleigh Fire Department records including their public fire report web site, Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, city directories, and county real estate records.
Five tiers of fires have occurred in the historic district:
One of the fires killed four people on April 29, 1982. It was one of the deadliest in the city's history.
Another on February 18, 1958, injured firefighter Claude Johnson, who broke his leg. It was later amputated and he was unable to return to firefighting. He became a dispatcher and retired as such twenty years later. Read that story.
The earliest fire was 1890, the latest was 2012. The totals for recent decades are three in 2010s, five in 2000s, twelve in 1990s, nine in 1980s, and thirteen in 1970s.
The report also cites some smaller fires (31), some notable fires outside the district (A&P grocery, IGA grocery, etc.), and even a list of fireman that lived in Historic Oakwood.
Data review is absolutely encouraged. Help the historian correct errors, clarify information, and, of course, add other fires yet confirmed or discovered.
Read the Results
These results were presented at a monthly meeting of the preservation society on November 13, 2014:
Questions and Answers
These questions were asked during the presentation on November 13, 2014.
Q: The buildings in your list that have burned down were all
destroyed (except one) in recent decades? What is that?
Q: Why isn't the fire that I remember happening listed here?
Q: How complete is your data?
Q: How often will you update this data?
Left to right, top to bottom: 222 North Bloodworth on February 17, 1957, 407 Polk on February 18,
1958, 403 Edenton Street x 2 on July 23, 1978, and 202 Linden on March 20,
1984. Click once or twice to enlarge:
Left to right, top to bottom: 515 Oakwood on October 12, 1991 (Harkey), 500 Franklin on April 6, 1992 (two photos) (Harkey), 405-407 New Bern on June 20, 1993 (Harkey), 501 Oakwood on November 3, 1999 (Wilson), and 100 North Bloodworth on July 5, 2001 (Wilson). Click to enlarge:
Left to right, top to bottom: 405 N. East Street on January 10, 2010 and 704 E. Franklin Street on October 10, 2011.