White Cloud Fire of 1849

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The St. Louis Fire of 1849 was the one of the first fires in United States history in which a firefighter was killed in the line of duty. Captain Thomas B. Targee was killed while a fire break was being made. The fire occurred on May 17, 1849.

Timeline of the Fire

The fire began onboard a steamboat, the White Cloud. The steamboat broke loose from its moorings and began to float down the Mississippi River, setting other steamboats on fire as it went. It finally came to rest at the foot of Locust Street and the heat coming from the boat ignited nearby buildings. The resulting fire began to spread and threatened to burn down the entire city. The fire department, then all volunteer, decided to create a fire break by blowing up six warehouses. This was accomplished by launching kegs of gunpowder into the buildings. The last one blew up before launch, killing Captain Targee. The death toll for the fire, including Targee, was three.