Virginia’s ‘Great Fire’ of 1897
Some claimed the culprit was an overturned kerosene lamp or perhaps spontaneous combustion. Others blamed it on a discarded cigarette or cigar.
Others advanced a darker possibility. Masked men, who were reported to have been seen fleeing the area of the fire, must have been responsible. Why these men would have wanted to start a conflagration was never satisfactorily explained. Maybe it was intended as a diversion so they could empty the vaults of the banks. However, no bank vaults were emptied.