USC Regional History Center
More than 29 workers perished in the fire, while 150 others were injured. A temporary morgue was set up to handle the bodies, mourning relatives and the press.
More than 29 workers perished in the fire, while 150 others were injured. A temporary morgue was set up to handle the bodies, mourning relatives and the press. USC Regional History Center
USC Regional History Center
In October 1933, a small brush fire broke out near the Los Angeles Zoo in Griffith Park. Its flames grew until it became one of the largest and most destructive fires in the city's history.
In October 1933, a small brush fire broke out near the Los Angeles Zoo in Griffith Park. Its flames grew until it became one of the largest and most destructive fires in the city's history. USC Regional History Center
The fire that raged through Griffith Park in Los Angeles on Wednesday, burning hundreds of acres, recalled shades of similar destruction nearly 74 years ago.
In October 1933, flames broke out near the Los Angeles Zoo, destroying much of the historic park in what was widely considered the worst fire in the city's history. More than 29 workers died and 150 others were injured, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department's historical archive.
The blaze started out as a small brush fire; it burned for about an hour before the wind shifted, rapidly fanning its flames. It eventually would spread through 47 of the park's 4,200 acres, according to the Glendale News Press' 1993 account.
Some 3,784 workers were in the park that day, Oct. 3, 1933; many were performing small jobs offered through a government welfare program that helped find employment for those suffering through the Great Depression, according to the News Press.
Frank Shearer, a park commissioner, was the first to discover the fire.
"When Shearer arrived at the source of the fire, he found a pile of debris burning under an oak tree," a News Press article said. "He believed the debris was a pack rat's nest, although he found an empty coffee can and a paper sack nearby."
Workers nearby were asked to help extinguish the fire. But without firefighting training – and with only their hands, shovels and the earth to assist them – they were unable to stop it from gaining energy, according to reports. Some of the workers set backfires in an effort to control the blaze, but their attempts failed. Many of the men ended up trapped in a canyon, unable to find their way out before the flames engulfed them.
Griffith Park is known as a place for recreation and hiking, as well as events. Throughout its history, its main attractions have been the observatory, Greek theater, zoo, merry-go-round, and Dante's View, which was reportedly destroyed in Wednesday's fire.