From the Richmond Dispatch, 5/9/1861
Extensive Conflagration. - The large brick forwarding, commission and storage establishment occupied by Bridgford & Co. fronting on Dock street, corner of 20th, was discovered to be on fire about fifteen minutes past 4 o'clock yesterday morning, in several places in the northeast corner. By the time the alarm became general and the firemen arrived, the whole interior of the capacious edifice was one mass of flame. The firemen poured water into the place at an astonishing rate, but to no purpose. One of the proprietors, Mr. D. B. Bridgford, who slept in the office, made his escape (minus his usual apparel) by leaping from a second-story window on a large pile of laths stored on the sidewalk, but received little injury. - He, however, lost all of his clothing and various articles of personal property, in his sleeping apartment, besides a considerable sum of money, only a small portion of which, in silver, was afterwards recovered from the debris below. We understand that Mr. B. would have lost his life, also, had he not been waked by the cries of watchman Boze, who, with his partner, had just approached that point to extinguish the street lamps. They aided him to escape with life. The large building adjoining, occupied by Mr. J. H. Beegleston as a ship chandlery, which was full of goods, took fire from the intense heat, and was also consumed, though a considerable lot of valuable property was rescued.
The two buildings were part of the Enders' estate, and owned by Mr. Edris Berkeley, of Baltimore, and were, we believe, insured for $6,000 each, one of the policies being issued by the Virginia Fire and Marine Insurance Company. The Old Dominion Nail Company had an insurance of $10,000 on nails stored with Bridgford & Co. Womble & Claiborne an insurance on 200 bbls. fish, stored there. Bridgford & Co. were insured, personally, for $14,000 in various offices, including a policy of $5,000 in the Merchants' office....The State, as well as the occupants and owner of the houses, is a considerable loser by the above fire - a lot of army stores, such as fish, mess pork, rice, apples, flour, hay, tar, and percussion caps, having been consumed. The whole loss, in building, stock, &c., may be roughly estimated at seventy-five thousand dollars. - Mr. John M. Hall, formerly with Adams & Co.'s Express, lost seven or eight hundred dollars, having that amount in goods on storage there. ....The fire was the work of some evil-disposed scoundrel - of this there seems no doubt. The sparks and cinders flew a great distance, and set fire to the roof of the old Quaker Church, Dibrell's Warehouse, Wilson B. Hill's factory, Carr's factory, and other buildings; but the flames were all seen and put out in time.
It has been suggested to us, in view of the fact that incendiaries may attempt to play their despicable pranks in future, that the members of the Home Guard would do good service by performing patrol duty, thus saving their on and the property of all citizens from meditated destruction. They could not better employ themselves as adjuncts of the watchmen in thus providing for "home defence."
The warehouse of Luther Libby & Son, corner of 20th and Cary streets, was saved from burning by the exertions of the Richmond firemen, who exerted themselves successfully to prevent the fire from extending across the street.