Fred Elijah Coffin wrote about his experience in the Great Fire in a series of articles he published in 1912.
After the fire became well started and was forcing its way in three or four directions, it seemed as though it might, at any time, start directly up Main Street, and if so our house would go. At that time my father came to me — and I never before saw him so seriously in earnest — and said, "Fred, will you stand by me tonight?" I said, "Yes, I will!" And the old gentleman knew he could depend on me. We had no horse and it would have been impossible to find one that night, so my father obtained a large porter's push-cart and with that we transferred many loads of household goods to the premises of an uncle in the upper part of the town, but before the early daybreak it was evident that the fire was in control…
…One of the peculiar incidents of that wild night was the rare sight of the harbor on fire. Many barrels of whale oil on the wharves had burst, and their contents flowed out over the water of the harbor and there, taking fire, presented the grand spectacle of the sea on fire…"
Reprinted in "The Great Fire of 1846," by Edouard A. Stockpile, in Proceedings of the Nantucket Historical Association, 1946.