Just 5 years after it opened, the Georgia pine structures on Ellis Island burned completely to the ground. Fortunately, no one died in the June 1897 fire. But to geneaology buffs, the loss is immeasurable. Most of the immigration records dating from 1855 were destroyed. While a new, fireproof immigration station was being built on Ellis Island, immigrant processing was transferred back to the Barge Office on the Battery in Lower Manhattan.