Los Angeles Fire Department
Historical Archive

    December 16, 1887
    The Belmont Hotel Fire
    Bunker Hill and Second Street

DECEMBER 16, 1887
Bunker Hill and Second Street

Source: Los Angeles Public Library Collection
The Belmont Hotel was located on the current
site of the Belmont High School.

    At 10 o'clock Monday morning, December 16, 1887, fire broke out in the renowned Belmont Hotel, a famous resort atop Bunker Hill at the end of the Second Street cable car line.

    The Belmont consisted of a pair of two-and-one-half story wood-frame buildings with sharply-peaked roofs.  Only a few feet separated them.  For years the panoramic view of Los Angeles had often provided amusement for the Belmont's guests and servants, who, when pistol shots reverberated or alarm bells tolled, watched fire apparatus and firefighters racing in opposite directions while searching for the blaze.

    Perched almost alone atop Bunker Hill, the rapidly-spreading fire was quickly seen throughout the city.  Pistol shots were fired.  The police department received telephone calls.  An officer pulled Box 31 at Spring and Second Streets.  Engine and ladder company horses were unable to pull the heavy rigs up the hill.  Firefighters had to take a longer route around Bunker Hill to reach the fire by way of Sixth and Pearl (Figueroa) Streets.  The Belmont's inaccessibility took firefighters at least half an hour to get there.

    Drawing water from the Second Street Park Reservoir, the steam engine finally got water on the fire, but the Belmont was, by then, beyond saving.  Firefighters, servants and guests concentrated upon saving as many personal belongings and furniture as they could before heat and smoke drove them out of the buildings.  Soon a sprawling pile of steamer trunks, clothing, bedding and furniture was strewn across the grassy slope looking down upon the city.  Less than two hours later the Belmont Hotel was gone forever and the $50,000 loss was added to the city's records.

Source:  LAFD CENTENNIAL by Paul Ditzel,  page 39.

Source: Los Angeles Public Library Collection
This is the earliest photograph of a  major  fire in
 Los Angeles and possibly the earliest photo of the
newly formed Los Angeles Fire Department in action. 


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