When the Great Earthquake hit San Francisco in 1906, 3-month-old William Del Monte's family fled the city on a horse-drawn cart.
Del Monte was the last known survivor of the 7.8-magnitude quake and fires that killed some 3,000 people and leveled much of the city. He died of natural causes Monday at a retirement home north of San Francisco. He was 109.
Del Monte didn't remember much about his family's dramatic escape, but "was told that his mother bundled him up after the shaking stopped and ran out to the street where his father commandeered the rig, which they rode down to the waterfront as flames licked at them from all sides," the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
"We have not only lost a friend, but also a piece of living San Francisco history in his death, just 11 days before his 110th birthday," San Francisco Mayor Edwin W. Lee said in a statement.
"After being forced out of his home in North Beach after the 1906 Great Earthquake and Fire as an infant, he ultimately witnessed our City's rise from the ashes more than a century ago seeing it rebuilt better than ever," Lee says.