On July 16, 1815, a fire began in a small stable in Petersburg. After only a few hours, almost two-thirds of the city lay in ruins. Citizens stood on the banks of the Appomattox River and watched as wind blew flames from one building to the next. The tragedy claimed a dozen lives and destroyed more than five hundred homes. The fire raged until it was quelled by a downpour of rain. Stories of heroism from firefighters and landowners were left in the aftermath. Author Tamara Eastman describes the city before the fire, the horrific event and the collective efforts to rebuild a stronger city.