I just finished reading the book A Crack in the Edge of the World by Simon Winchester. I've read about the disaster in San Francisco before, but as usual Winchester's book is a broad, thorough examination written to read as engagingly and pleasantly as a good novel. It's hard to imagine the destruction of that quake and the fire that followed after. This picture, taken from a balloon shortly after the fires died down shows just how total the destruction was.
If you'd like to zoom in for greater detail follow the link: http://www.abneypark.com/sanfranfromairship.jpg