On January 20, 1900 the controlled burning of a couple of plague-infected houses close to the Kaumakapili Church went out of control – presumably due to a sudden change of weather – and an area of up to 65 acres went up into flames. This event left most of Chinatown in ruins and made over 4,000 people homeless overnight. The fire is often referred to as having brought the plague outbreak “accidentally” to a sudden end, with the last case to be registered on March 31 , 1900. Of the 71 cases, 61 died in this first outbreak of plague in Hawaii: the disease should return a few years later as a sylvatic problem, threatening the sugar industry among the islands up until the middle of the 20th century.
Owner: Hawaii State Archives
Collection: Photograph Collection, Epidemics: Bubonic Plague, 1900
Call number: PP-17-11-001
Photographer: Frank Davey