Pusan Ablaze

Aftermath of Pusan fire, PM 2003.17.909
Firefighter, PM 2003.17.568
Silhouette of firefighter, PM 2003.17.582
Burned out building, PM 2003.17.3001
Fire victim, PM 2003.17.3000

“By November, 1953, a Pusan refugee always slept with one ear open for the crackle of flames.”

—Sister Maria Del Rey

Pusan’s gross overcrowding and poor construction made it especially susceptible to fire. A series of three fires between November 1953 and February 1954 destroyed about 8,000 homes, the railroad station, and the headquarters of the U.S. Army’s Korea Base Section, uprooting thousands with each blaze.