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The Fire of 1875

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The town would turn 50 years in a few months, but not before downtown disappeared.
 

On June 15, the Patron Saint Festivities began. As usual, the town was decorated everywhere and people were beginning to arrive from various neighborhoods. At one point, two people began firing with shotguns with the intention of cheering up the celebration. These were the Spanish Francisco Moya Campos (merchant) and Francisco Bou Arroyo (military and politician).

In a short time, a fire started at José Vivas Font's house on Comercio Street (today 4 de Julio Street). From there it continued up the street, burning the Casa del Rey (city hall), which was on the same street, and so it continued up the town, becoming a hell. The barn that was in the square as a provisional church was burned, along with all the houses on Barranquitas Street (today Pedro Arroyo Street) and those on La Guaira Street (the slum that covered the hill did not yet exist).

Most people later claimed that the fire was started by a lit wad (a component of the cartridge), fired by one of the aforementioned people.

The town was later described as almost gone,
since the fire had eliminated 28 houses of the 41 that made up the downtown area. This was the greatest tragedy that our town has experienced, from which it was slowly able to recover with the help of the wealthiest residents as well as donations from wealthy people from different parts of the island for several months after the fire.

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Sources:
- Crónicas de Barros (Pedro Arroyo Vivas, 1945) pgs. 69-72, 184 and 190
- La Gaceta de Puerto Rico, various publications from 1875

 

 

Orocovis Fire 1875

Site created by Reniet Ramírez (2023)

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