The Ålesund Fire happened in the Norwegian city Ålesund on 23 January 1904.The photo shows Ålesund in 1900 before the fire. The view is from the east looking west as seen from the city mountain Aksla.
The fire started a quarter past 2 AM at Aspøya, in the Aalesund Preserving Co.’s factory, which was located where Lower Strand Street 39 (Nedre Strandgate 39) is located today. It is actually stated that the fire started because a cow kicked a torch.
In spite of valiant efforts at suppression, the hard wind driven fire destroyed much of the town. In total, the fire destroyed nearly 850 houses, leaving approximately 230 houses remaining within the town borders.
Only one person was known to die. That was an old lady who went back into her house to get her purse.
Huge support and aid was provided to Ålesund both from within Norway and from abroad. The German Emperor Kaiser Wilhelm II had been a frequent visitor to the area and expressed a personal concern for the plight of the population. As a result, much of the international help was given from Germany, sent in Kaiser Wilhelm’s name. His first telegram was received while the fire was still being extinguished. He dispatched four ships loaded with personnel, food, medicine, materials for shelters and equipment.
The town was rebuilt in (at that time) contemporary Jugendstil (Art Nouveau). Modern historians have concluded that the fire was actually positive in terms of city development.
I have as many other "artists" born in the city of Ålesund, made some works expressing the spectacular motives to be found here and from the surrounding mountains and fjords. In the weeks to come I will give you some examples of these paintings.