Way Back When: Mysterious Fire in the Night

Way Back When: Mysterious Fire in the Night title=
Way Back When: Mysterious Fire in the Night
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(Image: New York Public Library)

By Betsy J. Green

What was causing the flames out on the Channel in May 1918? “The belief was still so strong late at night that a ship was on fire, that a government tug started out to investigate … by daylight, the fire and smoke could plainly be seen on [Santa Cruz] island.” The fire burned for a week and a half.


Learn more about me at my website: betsyjgreen.com

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bjgreen May 06, 2018 11:57 AM
Way Back When: Mysterious Fire in the Night

Sorry for the confusion again, folks. The source of the photo is clearly labeled as coming from the New York Public Library's collection. I assumed that people would realize that this means that it is a stock photo used to illustrate the story, and not a local photo. Photos of local events, such as fires, in the 19-teens, are extremely rare, and I would certainly label a photo as such.

Potif May 06, 2018 12:41 PM
Way Back When: Mysterious Fire in the Night

Just a thought... Even a New York Public Library could have a photo of something happening in Santa Barbara, even from something that long ago. I've found photos of places and people in 'strange' places I wouldn't have expected while doing my family history.

RHS May 06, 2018 10:36 AM
Way Back When: Mysterious Fire in the Night

Hard to give a "well known historian" a break when she intentionally conflates facts. No serious trained historian would post a photo of a nonevent related item and let the reader sort out whether it was a picture of the event or not.

Flicka May 06, 2018 08:31 AM
Way Back When: Mysterious Fire in the Night

What difference does it make where the smoke is coming from? The point is Santa Cruz had a fire 100 years ago and another this year. That's the point for me, history repeating. Thanks, Betsy, for all the research you do to keep us historically informed.

woodruff May 05, 2018 11:57 PM
Way Back When: Mysterious Fire in the Night

At islapedia.com, there are a number of reports of this fire, which started in a pine flat between Pelican Bay and Prisoners' : http://www.islapedia.com/index.php?title=Fires:_Santa_Cruz_Island

SBHope May 05, 2018 11:27 PM
Way Back When: Mysterious Fire in the Night

I went to the link to find out more but it just appeared to be a site where she sells her books. I didn’t see more on this story. Is this an ad. If so shouldn’t it state that?

MissBleu May 05, 2018 10:58 PM
Way Back When: Mysterious Fire in the Night

Good Grief...Give renown historian BJ Green a break... She is known for sharing stories and photos of historical import...We are lucky she posts here...

bjgreen May 05, 2018 09:33 PM
Way Back When: Mysterious Fire in the Night

The photo is just a photo of a smoky fire that I used to illustrate the story. If it were an actual photo of a local event, I would indicate that in the description. There were very few local photos in the newspapers here in the 19-teens, unfortunately.

Potif May 06, 2018 01:16 AM
Way Back When: Mysterious Fire in the Night

Love the story. Perhaps next time if the photo you use isn't actually related to the story, you could label it as a 'stock photo'? That would be a help us out. We know that pictures from that era can be difficult, and sometimes impossible to find. I do love to see the old historical photos... but would like to know how, or if, it relates to the article. Thank you for your contribution to our knowledge of the area!

woodruff May 05, 2018 11:35 PM
Way Back When: Mysterious Fire in the Night

Nah. Sorry, the inclusion of this photo is just bad journalism. You cannot ethically write a story with a photo showing an event other than the one you are actually reporting.

goletatim May 05, 2018 06:23 PM
Way Back When: Mysterious Fire in the Night

The picture shows what looks to be a burnt forest and the background mountains seem to have snow in the canyons. Hmm, Santa Cruz Island ?

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