Before the Zeeland Fire department was organized, fires were extinguished by the "Bucket Brigade" method, yet even this method would have proven ineffective against the fires of October 1871.
High winds and extensive drought conditions caused the disastrous fire in Chicago, the devastating fire in the small Dutch community of Holland and the furnace of fire just southwest of Zeeland. In the Holland fire, 76 business places, 243 homes, 5 churches, 3 hotels, 45 miscellaneous buildings, and 5 warehouses burned. There was a total loss of $900,000.
Preparing for Disaster
For three or four days a strong wind kept the townspeople alert to potential disaster. Many buried their belongings in the ground and prepared to evacuate their homes. It was indeed a blessing to the Zeelanders to have been spared the disaster which befell both Holland and Chicago.
Quote from H. Keppel
"With the dense smoke, heat and wind during the day and flames all over the sky at night, it was indeed a frightful time." ~ H. Keppel (1866-1918)