August 8 1908
The Cranbrook Prospector Files
The Fires which destroyed Fernie were burning for ten days before the disaster. In the limits of the Eastern B.C Lumber Co. which operated what is known as the old cedar valley mill, a small fire had been smouldering since July 20.
Fire and the Blazing lumber caught by the wind was carried across into the park. Here the city fire department had laid hose and met him. He was a giant. While they were sturdily striking at his feet, he reached over their heads and struck right in the Heart of the City.
The Fire had also leaped the river at the bridges and the island was swept as with a broom. When the Fernie Hotel, the Central and the Waldorf took fire within five minutes of each other and small fires burst up in every direction it was seen that there was absolutely no hope of saving the city and the saving of life became the prime consideration.
To understand the fire rightly one must have been scorched by it. It may help to explain the extraordinary rapility of the fires wory and the helplessness of the people when we remember that the was a furious south west wind sweeping up the valley. The fire was split in two at the Dairy ranch and in three when a tongue fire reached across the river just above the cedar valley mill. The magnitude of the fire and the triple nature gave rise to a condition that would have baffled the best fire department in the world. Scores of whirl winds generated between the tracks of fire tore across the town site carrying blazing materials of all descriptions in their hug. Their course was most erratic and one cyclone of flame might light a dozen buildings lying in any direction from each other. If the reader has seen a picture of a water spout, a fire spout he would have some idea of the great weapon with which the fire demon fought.
There was fire on all sides and closing in on them with appalling rapidity as they huddled, men, women and children, under the shelter of the G.N. grade. By a singular chance, one of the few fortunate phases of an otherwise desperate situation, a small triangle where the people sought shelter was saved.
The patients in the Pest House and the hospitals were Mayor Tuttle’s first thought and all were removed to places of safety. Nurses Laidlaw and Cornett stayed with their patients till they landed them in the hospital at Cranbrook.
At Hosmer the populace was spread out along the river bank in the safest places they could find, awaiting the destruction of the town.
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