Men surrounded by fire fight for their lives – The Free Press Turns 115 years Old

Men surrounded by fire fight for their lives (Files from August 8 1908) - The Free Press Turns 115 years Old

  • Dec. 31, 2012 8:00 a.m.

August 8 1908

The Cranbrook Prospector Files

Probably the most heroic and dangerous fight of all was made by the bush gang of the Elk River Lumber Co. at camp 4 situated a mile east of town and entirely surrounded by heavy timber which of course was all afire. There was between 55 and 60 men and two women at camp 4, the ladies being the wife and niece of foreman G. Warren Severn, who were spending the summer at the camp, having came up from Spokane a couple of weeks ago.

It was 3:20, Saturday afternoon when the fire first got dangerous and the horn was blown at 3:35 calling all the men form the woods. They immediately started to fight and tried in every possible way to save the camp but were finally driven off by the intense heat and blinding smoke. They took what they could carry and went our on a sand bar in the middle of the river. while fire surrounded them on every side and every minute seemed to be their last.

Alex Kennedy was the last man to leave camp. He having gone back to bring out four horses that broke away. He met Harry Thompson and Jim Milburn and called to them to run to the bar, but they went a little way up the hill to get ant hooks to move burning logs. Milburn got to the bar after a terrible fight for life, his eyes being almost  burned out of his head. Harry Thompson got lost, and made for the river, and after having his clothes burnt off, succeeded in reaching it. He threw himself into the river and tried to swim but could not hold his head above water. He thought he was about to be burned to death and decided to commit suicide but did not have the necessary nerve, after being in the water for six hours he finally managed to swim the river and although almost blind and terribly burned succeeded in reaching town.

 

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