The Berkeley fire of 1923 destroyed more than six hundred houses in the Northside district to the north of the UC Berkeley campus. Based on a comprehensive survey of newspapers, oral histories, archival documents, photographs, and video, this essay, Part 1 of a two-part series, describes the fire in detail, illustrating the horror and humanity of the event. Thus it sets the stage for Part 2, which details the efforts of industry lobbyists in 1923 and 1924. These efforts, we argue, contributed to the ferocity of the Oakland-Berkeley Firestorm of 1991 that killed twenty-five directly, and thirty-four indirectly.

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