SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— Although no survivors were present, a crowd of about 150 people marked the 108th anniversary of the great San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906 early Friday morning at Lotta’s fountain on Market Street.
Dressed as if it were 1906, master of ceremonies Bob Sarlatte brought the crowd at Kearney and 3rd Streets back to that historic day in San Francisco.
“Wednesday, April 18th, 1906,” he announced. “It’s morning time. It’s 5:12. A great foreshock is felt throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Some 20-25 seconds later San Francisco residents are awakened by a tremor 45 to 60 seconds long, measuring 7.9 on the modern-magnitude scale.”
San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White was on hand and reminded everyone to be prepared for the next “big one”, urging to have three to four days worth of supplies stocked so one’s household could survive that amount of time with no help from emergency responders.
“We pride ourselves on getting to the scene of any emergency within three to five minutes, but that all sort of goes out the window in a large-scale disaster. It’s about the community coming together to support us and to support one another,” she said.
There are two living survivors of this earthquake; 108 year-old Bill Del Monte and 112 year-old Ruth Newman, both not mobile enough to attend the ceremony.
This year, for the first time, the quake celebration involving the single fire hydrant that saved a huge swath of city buildings had to share the spotlight. The “Gold Fire Hydrant” at 20th and Church streets helped stop the fire from penetrating deeper into the Mission District, and it has been honored every year since the tradition began in 1969.
New for 2014, for the first time, San Francisco is honoring two other fire hydrants — one at Hayes and Buchanan, and another at Ellis and Van Ness. Historians say those other two hydrants were equal in importance to saving parts of the city as the famed “Little Giant” gold hydrant. They’re now painted silver, and dubbed the “Silver Twins” for their role in stopping the “Ham & Egg” fire in the Western Addition.