The Dublin Whiskey Fire

At 4:45 p.m. on June 18, 1875, Malone’s malt house and bonded storehouse on Chamber Street in Dublin, Ireland, was checked and some 5,000 barrels of whiskey were found to be in order. At 8 p.m., the alarm was raised. A massive fire was spreading quickly, and as the flames reached the wooden casks holding the liquor, they burst open, sending a burning river of whiskey flowing through the streets. William Smith and his neighbor John McGrane decided to cross the city to take a look. That was at about 10 p.m. By time William and John had reached the blaze, the flow measured 2 feet wide, 6 inches deep, and stretched almost half a mile down the street. Squeals of fleeing pigs added to the chaos as residents quickly fled their tenements. For some, the inferno presented a rare opportunity, and people could be seen taking off their boots and using them as cups to lap up the free liquor. As a result, 24 men were taken in a comatose state to local hospitals. In all, 13 people died as a result of the fire, but none of them perished in the flames, nor did they die of smoke inhalation. They died of alcohol poisoning from drinking freely of the contaminated whiskey.