August 6, 1908






Never since the great disaster of the San Francisco earthquake and fire has the western country experienced anything like the fire that has been raging through the Crows Nest pass with Fernie as a center. With scarcely time to gather any of their effects, the people of Fernie were driven from their homes by the raging flames. So rapidly did the fire sweep over the city that members of families were lost to each other and everyone was doing what they could to save their own lives. Men who had no children to look after grabbed those in sight, not waiting to make inquiries, but prompted by only one desire, and that was to save all the lives in their power. Within a few hours between three and four thousand people, who had been enjoying comfortable homes, were fleeing for safety, pursued by a hurricane of flames and knowing not what the next moment might bring forth. Caste was forgotten, and, on the contrary, the grand feeling of democracy that suffering humanity brings to all, prevailed among the people, and the helping had was extended by everyone in a position to do so. Fernie, the commercial center of the Crows Nest Pass, a town of prosperity, with thousands of people who have invested all that they had in building up their business and their homes, was within a few hours reduced to absolute ruin, with nothing but ashes and smoldering wrecks to tell the tale of what had been one of the best cities in Western Canada. The Herald printed on Sunday a special edition, giving as full an account as was possible to secure at that time, and over 4000 of these were given to the victims of the conflagration who had arrived in Cranbrook to be used as letters to their friends and relatives.

M.D. Billings, special commissioner for the Herald, left on Saturday evening on the first relief train for the scene of the disaster and carried with him special authority from Mayor Fink of Cranbrook to confer and act with Mayor Tuttle of Fernie in matters of relief. Cranbrook has done herself proud and the Herald does not feel that it is indulging in vanity when it says that Cranbrook has a people that is ready to arise to an emergency of this kind in a most glorious manner.

With the first news that had been received immediate action was taken and an organization was formed at once to meet the demand of the people in distress. Word was sent out and the homes of the town were thrown open and when the first relief trains arrived committees were present to take charge of the refugees and see that they were cared for. The men of the town assisted in directing the people to the Opera house, where systematic arrangement by a committee hastily formed had every man, women and child looked after within an hour after they arrived in town. The next day a more effective organization was organized, sleeping and eating quarters at the curling rink, tents erected on vacant lots, all empty houses were secured, so as to give the sufferers every comfort possible. The Knights of Pythias and Odd Fellows opened their hall and took care of about 75 of the men who were without a place to sleep. Various bureaus were established throughout the city so that money, clothing and food could be supplied. The business men of the town quit their establishments and devoted their time to relief work, with committees' headquarters at the Cranbrook Hotel block and the rink. The Herald only wishes that it were possible to say what it would like to say in praise of the men and women of Cranbrook who have acted so nobly in the great work which has been carried on. We are a little town, but the Herald wants to say that we are a big people. We have tried to do our duty and saints and sinners have joined together to do what they thought was right for the sufferers of Fernie. The Odd Fellows and K.P.'s have sent out a call for relief which is being liberally responded to and other secret societies are doing likewise. This is the time when all humanity should do everything in their power to assist the suffering and anything sent to mayor Tuttle of Fernie or mayor Fink of Cranbrook will be properly handled.

(By M.D. Billings, the Herald's Special Commissioner)

Fernie, BC. Aug. 4 - 6:30 a.m. The morning of the third day after the fire dawned with a much brighter aspect for the ruined city. The authorities have got competent committees appointed to take charge of affairs and order is rapidly being brought out of chaos.

A most hopeful spirit prevails among business men and all are planning to commence the erection of new buildings as soon as the grounds can be cleared and material rushed to the scene.

The CPR is rapidly getting the yards cleared and loading the wheels and ruined steel work of the burned cars for shipment to the shops.

It is estimated that it will take at least 10,000 ties and six cars of steel to place the Fernie yards in shape, as there is hardly a tie or rail between the east and west yard limit that is not ruined.

The CPR loss at this point alone will come close to a half million dollars, as in addition to the loss of freight and coal cars, coal chutes, freight and passenger station, steel and ties, one of the sleepers of the Calgary run was burned. In fact, the only thing they have remaining of any value is a dwelling house occupied by Roadmaster Telfer. A portion of this has been turned into a dispatchers office for the handling of trains. They already have a large number of men here to commence the erection of new buildings and it is expected to have the water tank started today and if material reaches here in time the erection of a new freight shed will be commenced.

Up to the present time only ten deaths have been made certain of within the city, and nothing accurate has yet been learned with regards to any deaths at the various mills and camps.

The known dead are as follows:

F. Ford, wife and two children, of West Fernie, who were found in a well and the condition of the bodies shows that they had actually been boiled.

Mrs. Turner, of Fernie Annex,

Jena Bell, a colored resident of the restricted district.

Four foreigners found in Old Town names unknown.

Fernie, BC Tuesday, 6:20 p.m. - The committee is rapidly getting things into shape here and the work of the commissary department is excellent.

Preparations are rapidly being made to take care of the sanitary conditions, and as they already have a sewer system here it will take but a short time to make temporary connection and get this phase of the difficulty settled. Still there are a large number of animal carcasses to be disposed of before the town will be safe from danger of serious illness.

Supplies are still coming in rapidly and the mayor is constantly receiving messages from individual towns and societies all over Canada and the Northern States expressing sympathy and asking for information as to what nature of assistance was most needed, whether cash or supplies. Among these was on from Wm. Whyte, vice-president of the CPR stating that he would arrange for free transportation of all supplies and personal effects for the relief of distress.

Alderman Hornby, of Calgary, arrived here this morning with three cars of supplies from that city and stated that he was authorized to ascertain the needs of the town and Calgary would do all in her power both with cash and supplies.

J.J. Hill, of the Great Northern railway, wired the mayor of Fernie from St. Paul to draw on him personally to the extent of $5,000.

Many other individuals and towns have sent sums ranging from $100 to $5,000, and the committee is overwhelmed with gratitude for which their appeal for aid is being responded to.

As is always the case in times of great disaster human vultures are flocking here for the purpose of securing something for nothing at the expense of the actual sufferers, but the authorities are gradually getting this phase of the matter under control and those who are found to be imposters and refuse to work are quickly convinced that this is a poor place for them to camp.

Superintendent Primrose, of the Mounted Police is here from MacLeod and has tendered the assistance of the Mounted Police to assist in controlling the situation.

A wire was received from premier McBride this morning tendering the sympathy of the government and stating that he had ordered Superintendent Hussey, of the provincial police, to report here to confer with the government agents of Fernie and Cranbrook, with authority to take such action as they thought fit in coping with the situation.

W.A. Galliher, MP, wired his sympathy and stated that he had already taken up the mater of relief with the Dominion government and they were then in communication with the British Columbia government regarding same.

As time progresses it seems more apparent than ever that the loss of life as reported in the daily papers is greatly exaggerated, and it is believed that when all is over that it will be found that the actual loss will not exceed twenty-five in the city and the lumber mills and camps.

One of the most distressing incidents, and one that shows the avariciousness of some people as soon as their own lives are saved, occurred here last night. The oven of McEwen's bakery was left in fairly good shape by the conflagration and by direction of the mayor it was repaired immediately and placed in condition for baking a supply of bread. Mr. McEwen was absent in Seattle, but Mrs. McEwen and her brother had fled to Michel, when the fire was raging and returned just about the time the committee had the oven filled ready for baking. They immediately demanded the turning over of the oven to them and on the mayor declining to accede to their request demanded that they be furnished with a tent to open up a confectionery store with supplies that they had already ordered by wire. They were informed that there were not tents enough at the disposal of the committee to furnish those in need of shelter and that the committee was not supposed to furnish people with supplies for commercial purposes, and then, notwithstanding the fact that the people of neighboring towns had not only thrown open their homes, but had placed their all at the command of the sufferers, these two individuals turned loose and gave the overworked mayor one of the worst tongue-lashings that the Herald representative has ever heard. People who commit actions of this kind should be published far and wide so that the public may know how to deal with them in future.

To offset this kind of work on the part of a few we are glad to say that the vast majority here are bearing up bravely and displaying remarkable self-denial, and the frequent stories of acts of heroism by men, women and children are a pleasure to hear.

On arriving here last night we were informed that the property of the Wood-McNabb Lumber company had not burned, and this morning the Herald representative met W.H. Burton, of the office staff of that company, who states that after a strenuous fight the entire plant had been saved, including saw mill, planing mill, lumber and live stock.

Michel, BC, Aug. 5 - At 4 o'clock yesterday a wire was received in Fernie stating that the new part of Michel was burning and that the whole town was in danger, as the wind was blowing a gale up the valley. In fifteen minutes after the message was received Superintendent Brownlee left Fernie with a relief train and made a rush trip only to find on arrival here that the alarm was false and that the town was perfectly safe. It seems that the report was started by the crew of a west bound freight train, who went as far as new Michel and were frightened by the bush fires on each side of the track and backed up to the station here and sent the wire for assistance. Everything is perfectly safe here and it does not look as if the town could possibly be in danger unless a fire started within the city limits. Notwithstanding this the town is practically deserted, nearly all the population have gone to Coleman to stay until the danger is all over. As a result the mines here have been closed since Saturday, there not being men to operate them but it is expected that enough will return today to enable them to re-open tomorrow.

Fernie, BC, Aug. 5. - Everything is working as smoothly as clock work here now and the situation is well in hand. Arrangements have been completed for the erection of tents as rapidly as they arrive for the housing of the people and it is hoped by Saturday night, if not sooner, to have all of the refugees returned to this town and the strain upon Cranbrook and other neighboring towns relieved.

The organization here now is complete and every member of the committee is putting forth their most strenuous efforts to keep the cheerful spirit prevailing and to hurry the work of reconstruction. In this respect should be expecially noted the work of Mayor Tuttle. To fully understand the matter one must take into consideration the fact that the population of the city was probably the most cosmopolitan of any community in the northwest, being composed of nearly every nationality on the face of the globe, there being an especially large continent of Slavonians and Italians. To handle and relieve a populace of this kind without doing injustice to any or arousing any ill-feeling requires the greatest amount of diplomacy and judgement of human nature, together with good memory for faces. And in this respect Mayor Tuttle surpasses anything your representative has witnessed in years.

The commissary department has been divided into separate departments, with an adequate committee in charge, and to obtain supplies of any kind from these departments it is necessary to have an order from the mayor.

Seated under an awning in front of his tent where he has a view of the larger part of the Coal company's square, the mayor is kept busy hour after hour, writing these orders, while the waiting line is constantly in motion, new applicants taking the place of those supplied. As the applicant states his wants, there is a quick glance of the mayor's penetrating eye, a question or two, a word or two of encouragement and the order written like magic, and the next train taken in hand.

During all the time the mayor's eye is constantly roving over the scene and nothing escapes his attention. And he is constantly calling the attention of bystanders to points where they can be of assistance, in words like this: "See that poor woman standing in the hot sun there with her supplies, evidently awaiting someone. Won't one of you boys step over and assist her to a shady place?"

Again and again he calls attention to cases of this kind, with never a thought for himself, stopping only long enough to glance rapidly through a batch of telegrams and give hurried instructions for their answering. For nearly four days this has kept up incessantly from early morning until a late hour at night, and then when it is time that he should be taking rest he is busily engaged with committees, looking after details and preparing for the next day's work, and during the four days and nights he has had very little sleep, and that broken by visiting delegations arousing him to attend to matters of imperative importance. In fact if it was not for the watchfulness of friends he would fail to think of food for himself, in his anxiety to relieve the distress of others. But now and then a watchful friend takes a glance at the busy man and rushes away to return with a bowl of soup or a plate of food, insisting that Mr. Tuttle stop and eat. A swallow or two of soup, a mouthful or two of food, a glance at the ever-increasing crowd in front and the mayor has again forgotten self and is again at work. Fernie has a mayor to be proud of and the manner in which he has arisen to the occasion can never receive too much praise.

On Tuesday afternoon the city council held a meeting and passed a resolution for the issuing of permits to owners within the fire limits to erect temporary frame structures, not to exceed one and a half stories in height. These permits only allow the buildings to stand for a period of ten months, at the end of which time they must be removed or torn down, whether permanent buildings have been erected or not. No permits will be issued to lessees for these purposes. Today the permits are already being issued, plans being drawn and the buildings will be constructed as rapidly as the materials can be got on the premises. Many of the merchants are preparing to open in tents until their temporary buildings are ready for occupancy. W.F. Muirhead & Co., dealers in boots and shoes, were the first to open, and they were quickly followed by the Trites-Wood company, with a general stock, so that it is now possible for those with money to purchase some of their supplies. The greatest need at the present time is an eating place, where salesmen and other visitors to the stricken city can purchase meals, as at present anyone arriving here without bringing food with them cannot purchase anything in the line of eatables, but must depend upon the commissary department and this they do not wish to do. It is hoped to have a restaurant in operation by tomorrow noon, and in all probability it will be.

Among those who arrived today with supplies were Mayor McDonald, of Rossland, BC and Mayor W.H. Griffin, of Kalispell, Mont., who came to look the situation over and report to their townsmen the condition of affairs and what was mostly needed in the way of assistance. Delegates are arriving on every train from the cities of the western provinces and States for the same purpose and the sympathy and assistance extended from all parts of the country is gradually straining the pent up feelings of the citizens to the breaking point.


Someone started the report and was taken up by the Associated Press and scattered broadcast that the fire which destroyed the town was started by members of the Black Hand society in an effort to release their imprisoned brothers. When Mayor Tuttle and other officials of Fernie learned that this report was being scattered broadcast their indignation was intense and they denounced the circulators of the item in the strongest terms and stated that bush fires had been burning in the hills for days and that there was no reason in the world for any question as to where the fire that destroyed the town came from. Mayor Tuttle also stated that when it was seen the town was doomed the imprisoned men were turned loose and when the danger was over they voluntarily delivered themselves into custody again, that all of the suspects with the exception of the five who were most deeply implicated are at present at large and proving the most efficient workers in clearing up the wrecked town.

H. J. Brown, cashier of the freight department, had $2,800 of company money in his possession and when he saw the town was doomed he buried the money, digging it up again and remitting same to the company as soon as he was able to get back into the burned city.

R.L.T. Galbraith, who came down to Fernie to consult with other members of the directorate of the Fernie-Fort Steele Brewing company stated that their loss would total $250,000. They had already got the foundation completed for the new brewery and they were about to build, and this foundation was not touched by the fire, so that they will again proceed with its construction as rapidly as the brick can be secured, and they hope to be in operation within the next two months.

The Smith Premier people, of Spokane, rushed half a car of type-writers through to Fernie, and before noon today (Wednesday) had a tent up and an operator busy writing letters, free of charge and also had notices posted all around stating that any business man desiring the use of a machine, could have same by calling at their headquarters and carrying it away.

Salesmen of wholesale houses are rapidly arriving and the merchants are all busily engaged placing orders for new stock.

A.H. Cree, of Cree & Moffat, insurance agents, estimates the total loss within the city at $3,500,000 and insurance at $1,500,000.


At 4 o'clock Sunday morning all that remained of the immense yards of the CPR was a mass of smouldering ruins and wreckage. Men and material were rushed to the scene and under the personal supervision of R. Sinclair, superintendent of the bridge and building department and Roadmaster Telfer, the work was commenced and this afternoon every foot of track was in shape for use and the temporary station was rapidly nearing completion.


(by George Meikle, Journalist, of Fernie)

San Francisco was not in it, and the Galveston catastrophe was behind the Fernie holocaust, great disaster that has befallen already afflicted people.

With previous fires, entailing the loss of an enormous amount of money, with the people hampered by troubles, the outcome of which will now never be known, there stands today in this once populous and thrifty city, naught but a heap of ashes.

"Down and out" might well be the slogan of the people, but with commendable zeal and courage, the city will rise again.

On Saturday afternoon, August 1st, the smoke from bush fires settled on the town, and about 2:30 things began to assume a serious aspect. For about an hour, people from West Fernie and intervening points, laden with what they could carry, passed through the streets and about 3 o'clock the throng that was seeking safety caused an alarm throughout the whole city. Threatening volumes of smoke and cinders floated in the air, but so accustomed have we been to such scenes that little alarm was felt amongst the general public. But these clouds of smoke soon materialized into flames, and almost quicker than we write this they swept over the doomed city. A hurricane raged, and it was difficult indeed to even stand up against the fierce wind that swept down the streets. It seems almost incredible, but in less than an hour the whole city was a mass of flames.

Homeless, frantic humanity rushed to fancied places of safety, and as the flames advanced, the stampede became general until the bulk of the poulation were inside the Coal company's building, the Western Canada Wholesale company's store and the mine train. Carloads of people were rushed east to places of safety and towards evening a special was made up for the west. There is no language at our command to picture the scenes. Our readers can fill in the coloring, there is nothing too vivid nor exciting, it would take pages to even mention the wild, mad, frantic, pandemonium that reigned supreme.

It was all over by 6 o'clock and smouldering ruins greeted the vision and wind-swept smoke, circled and swept the place for hours afterwards.

There is no one who can give any more than a passing description for the scenes occurred too rapidly to describe, ere the passing of Fernie became in a few hours, a matter of history. From other sources our readers will glean further particulars, but, an eye witness had only a limited scope and consequently can only give what fell beneath his notice.

At Cranbrook, where some 3,000 people are now being looked after, it is with deep gratitude we have to thank the people. Everything possible to ensure the comfort of the homeless is being done, and amongst those we wish particularly to mention Mrs. W.W. Tuttle, wife of our esteemed mayor. Another indefatigable worker is F.E. Simpson, as white a man as ever we met, whose labors of love, generosity and kindness have been unlimited.



Cranbrook has over two thousand of the suffering homeless

More aid is needed for the stricken victims at once

First report from the Herald Sunday Special

Fernie is surely an ill-fated town. With the people doing all in their power to save a score or more of entombed miners, a bush fire started and before the people could really appreciate the whole danger the whole town was in ashes. Men, women and children were grabbing some few effects and doing what they could to save their lives. The fire had been raging in the bush on both sides of the river for some time and no one thought that there was any danger of the town going ,when suddenly sparks from the bush caught near the houses in the south part of the town near the brewery, and from that time on there was a conflagration that rivaled the fire at San Francisco. The big brewery caught next and then it ran along the dwellings to the main part of the town and then extermination was the result.

Pandemonium reigned and the populace were crazy with fright. Those who could gathered their children and sought safety in flight. Others who were separated from members of their family were distracted with fear. There was no time to save effects. So rapid was the progress of the flames that it was only a question of saving lives.

As soon as the word arrived in Cranbrook an informal meeting of the citizens was called at the Cranbrook hotel and an organization formed to meet the emergency and furnish relief. J.A. Harvey was called to chair and G.H. Thompson was named as secretary. Jas. Ryan started to work at the telephone and the whole list was gone over and everybody in the city gladly furnished all the room that they had to spare for the unfortunates. The first train arrived this morning about four o'clock with several hundred women and children and men, and they were taken to the opera house and from there distributed to the homes about the city. Especial attention was paid to the women and children and all of them were given comfortable quarters and the men were taken to the Fraternity hall where they had a good place to sleep. Today everybody is busy doing all in their power for the relief of the sufferers and Cranbrook will not quit until all are relieved.

About four o'clock yesterday afternoon, while most of Cranbrook's citizens were at the south part of town putting up a fight to save the city from the bush fires raging in that vicinity, a message was received at the CPR station stating that the brewery in Fernie had caught fire for bush fires and that the whole town was in serious danger. Before anything definite could be obtained regarding the situation the wires went down and no further information could be secured. About eight o'clock communication was re-established by the Fernie operator cutting into the line at the west end of the yards and Cranbrook was informed that the town had been completely wiped out and asking for relief trains to remove the women and children and for provisions for these who would be compelled to remain in the unfortunate town.

The citizens of Cranbrook were quickly notified, train and engine crews called and a train left for the scene of disaster at once, with what supplies could be hastily gathered.

Acting Superintendent Chudleigh personally took charge of affairs and accompanied this train along with a number of Cranbrook citizens.

A second train loaded with provisions, stores and other necessary articles was despatched an hour later.

In the meantime the eastbound passenger, which had passed through Cranbrook at 3:40 p.m., flagged from Elko to Fernie, and after loading up with all the sufferers they could carry commenced the return journey, passing the first relief train at Elko.

No words can picture the scene presented to those on the relief train on their approach to Fernie. Mile after mile of valley, mountain side and gulch presented one of the most stupendous sights ever witnessed by man, the whole country being lighted with flashes of fire, resembling an immense city lighted up with electric lights.

The special arrived in Fernie a few minutes after midnight and those in charge immediately looked up mayor Tuttle. Superintendent Chudleigh tendered the services of the train to at once remove ladies and children, but it was ascertained that two train loads of them had already been sent to Hosmer over the Great Northern and that the balance were scattered all around sleeping under the trees and anywhere an available spot of ground could be found. It was therefore decided to hold the train until morning before attempting to remove any more.

In the meantime word was brought into Fernie that the people who had been taken to Hosmer had been driven out of that town by the fire demon and had endeavored to return to Fernie, but were compelled to stop about half way between the two towns and camp out for the night.

The Cranbrook contingent, among whom was a representative of the Herald, then commenced an investigation of the havoc that had been wrought, and a more sad and desolate scene was never before presented to mortal man, and to one who did not actually view the ground it would seem almost impossible to believe that such damage could be done in so short a time.

On every side, as far as the eye could stretch, lay the smouldering ruins of what but a few short hours before had been one of the best and most prosperous cities in the interior of British Columbia.

Business blocks, railway buildings and yards, residences, mills, and, in fact, everything in the shape of buildings had been wiped out with the exception of twenty-three dwelling houses, the office building of the Crows Nest Pass Coal company, the Western Canada Wholesale house and the Great Northern depot and water tank.

On the lawns and ground alongside the fences of the few remaining residences could be seen the forms of sleeping people, men, women and children, who had dropped from sheer physical exhaustion upon the first available spot, and the floors of Coal company's office and the dwellings were covered with hundreds more.

Mayor Tuttle and Government Agent McMullen informed the Herald that the first fire reported was at the pest house in the west part of the town and within a few minutes after the brewery was reported burning, and it was a very few minutes after this before the fire had leaped into town from two directions.

A terrific gale of wind was blowing at the time and although superhuman efforts were put forth to stay the conflagration, they were of no avail, and in two hours the destruction was complete and over three thousand rendered homeless.

To give some idea of the rate at which the wind was blowing at the time, the tin roof on the opera house was lifted bodily from the building and dumped into the middle of the street before the fire had reached that point.

The citizens of Fernie all unite in stating that it was the most terrific gale ever experienced in that town and that it was absolutely impossible to check the flames, as blazing fagots were carried for blocks and cast upon inflammable material at a dozen different point at once.

Many narrow escapes from death were reported and hundreds experienced the greatest difficulty in escaping with their lives and what few clothes they were wearing.

Acts of bravery in saving the women and children were many, and among those most conspicuously mentioned as taking an active part in the heroic struggle to save life and property were Geo. E. Stevenson, manager of the Western Canada Wholesale company, Mayor Tuttle, G.G.S. Lindsey, W.R. Ross, Mr. McMullen and Messrs. Trites and Wood.

That there would be loss of life in such a serious conflagration was to be expected, but up to seven o'clock this morning only one death could be verified and that was an old lady who was crippled and lived in Fernie Annex across the Great Northern tracks.

Other deaths are reported but nothing definite will be known for several hours, as during the confusion families were separated and when the danger became the greatest everyone who was able grabbed the first child they saw and rushed for the nearest point of safety without waiting to ascertain who the child was and as a result many who are missing at present will turn up safely in a few hours.

Besides the immense loss of property in Fernie every sawmill in the vicinity was completely destroyed and their vast stocks of lumber licked up by the flames as if they were so much tinder, thus leaving the community without a stick of timber even for the purpose of erecting temporary shelter.

The financial loss, including the lumber companies, is estimated at between $3,000,000 and $4,000,000 and in all probability the insurance carried will average over 30 per cent of the loss, and hundreds of the working people, who owned their homes have lost their all, with practically no insurance.

Among the heavy losers are the CPR and Great Northern railways. The CPR lost all their buildings, including the coal chutes, full of coal, and a large number of cars loaded with coal and coke, besides immense damage to the tracks, the rails being so warped by the heat as to render them useless, making progress through the yards impossible. It was expected this morning to have the main line in shape for the passage of trains by noon today.

The Great Northern lost in the neighborhood of two hundred loaded coal and coke cars, and several bridges, besides damage to track.

The Fernie brewery was destroyed completely, including their horses.

Every business house and hotel with the exception of the Western Canada Wholesale house is destroyed.

The Fernie Free Press and Fernie Ledge offices are complete wrecks.

The only supplies in the town are what are contained in the Western Canada Wholesale house.

Thousands of people are homeless with barely enough clothing to cover them.

In fact, the destitution is appalling and notwithstanding the generosity of Cranbrook, and other neighboring towns the residents will require a vast amount of assistance immediately, especially of a monetary nature.

In spite of all the Fernie citizens are bearing up bravely, and hundreds of fathers and mothers when questioned as to what they saved, replied "Why, we saved the lives of ourselves and children. Isn't that enough?"

A large number of women and children were taken through the fire lines to Coal Creek for the night.

Nearly two hundred miners came down from Coal Creek on the train to assist in fighting the flames and nearly lost the train and their lives by the fires through which they came. Quite a number more essayed the trip on foot and some succeeded in reaching Fernie, but many were forced to return.

The people who were taken to Hosmer had a very narrow escape, as the were forced to return half way to Fernie for safety and had to run through nearly two miles of raging bush fire on the journey.

J.G. McCallum & Co. of this city, who had the contract for building the new post office in Fernie and had nearly completed same, suffer a net loss of $35,000.

Acting Superintendent E.L. Chudleigh is entitled to great credit for the manner in which he is conducting the transportation part of the relief work. Mr. Chudleigh is staying right on the ground without rest or sleep and doing everything possible to further the good work.

The bush fires are raging around Hosmer, but beyond the fact that the powder house blew up and shattered all the windows in town, it is impossible to ascertain how much damage has been done as there is no communication of any kind with points east of Fernie.

It is reported that the town of Michel is in serious danger, but the report cannot be confirmed.

Reports were current in Fernie this morning that a number of men had lost their lives in the different camps of the Elk Lumber company, but nothing definite could be secured regarding the matter and strong hopes are entertained that all have escaped in safety to the mountains.


It seems that the reports are authentic that from seventy-five to one hundred men were consumed by the flames in the camps of the Fernie and Elk Lumber companies. These men were caught in the valley and the flames spread so rapidly that escape was impossible.


The people of Cranbrook quit Sunday worship today and devoted themselves to helping the victims of the Fernie fire. Everybody did all that was possible, and the Herald is proud of Cranbrook and Cranbrook people today.


Every hotel man in the city has turned his premises over to the sufferers and are feeding them at actual cost and doing all in their power to make their condition as comfortable as possible under the circumstances.


The ministers of the town are working hard to do what they can to help suffering humanity and are working on different committees for relief of the afflicted.


Relief headquarters have been established in the office next to the Cranbrook hotel, where all information can be secured.


J.A. Harvey, Chairman
G.T. Rogers, secretary.
Committee in receipt of money and goods - JFM Pinkham, AL McDermot, JA Arnold.
Committee on food - GT Rogers, Rev. Main. WE Worden, DJ Johnon.
Committee on bedding and material - JG McCallum, Rev. Aikens, F Parks, Dr. Green, FE Simpson.
Committee to meet trains - Rev. Hughes, Father Choinel, MA Beale, Dr. Connolly.
Committee to take names at opera house - FR Morris, Dick G. Patmore, JD McBride.
Committee on accommodation - Dr. Miles. WF Gurd, SH Hoskins, J Hutchison, Geo. Johnson, Joe Sarvis, JF Armstrong.
Committee on lost children - Rev. Mr. Flewelling, E Elwell, Jas. Ryan.



The general subscriptions are, of course, going to Fernie, but following is a list of funds turned into the local relief committee:
N.C. McKinstry 10.00
Mr. Parks 2.00
Lee Leonard 50.00
A. Friend 1.00
T. Taylor 1.00
A Friend (per J. Ryan) 2.00
B. of R.T. (per J. Kennedy) 25.00
M. A. Beale 1.00
A Friend 1.00
Japanese ladies 35.00
Jap Store 5.00
Harry Futa and others 126.00
Mrs. R. McLennon 10.00
T. J. Cumberland 10.00
Dr. Connolly 10.00
E.D. Shackelton 5.00
Ald. G. Johnson (per friend) 2.25
D. E. Murphy 10.00
W. M. Frost 10.00
Chas. Wing 5.00
J. G. Sutherland 10.00
Senator Robert Jaffray 200.00
Smith Curtis 100.00
Thos. Gaffney 10.00
V. H. Baker 100.00
Friend 0.25
City of Victoria 500.00
City of Regina 500.00
City of Brandon 600.00
Special subscription for children 70.00

Wattsburg Lumber Co., Ltd. 50.00
Wattsburg hotel 25.00
J. Marnock 5.00
J. Chapman 2.00
N. McQuien 2.00
C. Vollrath 10.00
L. Cox 10.00
A. Sand 1.00
A. Wozny 1.00
L. Nelson 1.00
J. Regman 1.00
R. Morton 5.00
G. Anderson 1.00
C. Thompson 1.00
H. Hagerman 1.00
G. Wilson 2.00
F. McCabe 2.00
J. Dickinson 1.00
Murabashi 1.00
Maigawa 1.00
Kawaguishi 1.00
Kitamura 1.00
Kobeyashi 1.00
Yamauchi 1.00
Shigaya 1.00
H. Hunt 1.00
W. Morden 1.00
Lee Lee 1.00


Mrs. W.W. Tuttle, wife of the mayor of Fernie, who has done such noble work in the way of relief, has this to say in regard to the publication in the Nelson News about Thomas Caven: "Thomas Caven has always been a hero and is still and always will be. You cannot change him. He belongs to Cranbrook where heroes are manufactured."


In the issue of the Nelson Daily News of last Tuesday morning written by one Dyer in which it is stated that Conductor Thomas Caven refused to carry some refugees from Fernie. It is hardly necessary for the Herald to state that such a report is false, as everyone who knows Tom Caven fully appreciates the fact that he would carry a carload of sufferers if he lost his job. There is no man who would do more for suffering humanity than Tom Caven, and the Herald wants to enter a protest right here against such a report about a man who has a heart in him as large as the Cranbrook opera house. The News is unfortunate indeed in being imposed upon by the publication of such an article and the Herald simply desires to say that where any individual makes a statement reflecting upon the generosity and big heartedness of Tom Caven in case of trouble they are making a mistake that the people of Cranbrook and the district will not stand for.


A bridge a mile east of Swansea was on fire this afternoon when the express came through. The train was rushed over the crew went back and put out the flames.


The town of Claresholm, through its mayor, Mr. Moffatt, has sent $100.00 to the Fernie relief committee.


"It’s a lucky thing," said James Bates, "that the town of Cranbrook is here to take care of the Fernie people, for never was a town in greater danger of being burned out than was Cranbrook."


Moyie is taking care of two hundred refugees and is also furnishing money to help along the good work. The people of Moyie are good friends in both sunshine and shower and Cranbrook feels very strongly the part she has played.


After all is said and done the human heart is a great big organ and when distress is in evidence it is the heart that works. The following incident shows this to be the case: Almost as soon as the fire took place in Fernie, a woman of the demimonde class placed her whole house at the disposal of the committee, undertaking to feed all who were billeted there. It was not necessary to accept this kind offer so she at once bought 269 yards of the best flannel procurable and had it made into childrens clothes. The other incident was the case of a married woman from Fernie who was anxious to cable to her brother in Honolulu, but she had no money and had lost all in the fire. Two demi-mondeens who were standing in the telegraph office at once came to her side and said with tears in their eyes: "Please let us pay for this wire." The brother knows that his sister is safe.


David Elmer, Mr. And Mrs. Cook, Mrs. A. C. Bowness, Mrs. Baker, Mrs. Pasta and Mrs. J.H. King, have the thanks of the whole community for the way in which they handled the clothing department of the relief committee. Mrs. Keay also did splendid service along the same lines among the tents. Mrs. Baker took charge of the wash tent and saw that all the babies were properly bathed and this matter was one that probably saved much sickness.


All of the newspaper correspondents in Cranbrook have asked the Herald to thank the CPR Telegraph company and Mr. Hutchison, the operator, for the splendid service they gave. Mr. Hutchison worked day and night to get the news east and west.


To Mayor Fink and the Relief Committee of Cranbrook:-

On behalf of the citizens of Fernie who have been so lovingly and carefully protected and provided for by the citizens of Cranbrook during this awful calamity which has befallen our city and home, we, the undersigned committee, desire to express to you and through you to your generous people and most grateful and heartfelt thanks for all that you have done. Such an outflow of sympathy and help must be experienced to be credited. Your organization, your generosity, your patience, and good will have broken the black clouds that overshadowed us and helped us to look on the brighter side of our experience. The memory of your kindness will ever keep in our hearts a tender feeling for you and continually inspire the prayer that nothing but prosperity may be your lot in life, both as a city and a people.

James McKee,
Thos. Robertson,
Chas, Waylett,
Thos. Bell,
Rev. I. W. Williamson.

Alex McDermot, Jos. Ryan, W. Wilmot and T. M. Roberts did splendid work on the committee.
V. Hyde Baker placed his motor car and chauffer at the disposal of the relief committee. This was thoroughly appreciated by a number of pairs of tired legs.
Mrs. Wm. Tuttle, of Fernie, did wonderful work in organizing the dish washing brigade. By her efforts in this direction a number of Fernie women were organized into a brigade for the purpose of washing dishes at the curling rink.
The. Rev. Robert Hughes did splendid work in collecting clothing and anything else that turned up.
The Odd Fellows and Knights of Pythias fed a great number of people.
The Rev. Mr. Flewelling has been a busy man indeed looking after lost men, women and children. His services are thoroughly appreciated by the citizens of both Fernie and Cranbrook.
"Old Van," otherwise L.B. VanDecar, has worked night and day to see that everybody was properly fed at the curling rink. Nobody could have handled this part of the work any better than "Van," and he has been at his best, which is "going some."
The Methodist church have established a writing room for the use of the refugees. Rev. Robert Hughes, the Methodist minister, has done yeoman service and the people of Cranbrook, especially those who differ with him on certain points, thoroughly appreciate what he has done.
"One touch of nature makes the whole world akin." One of the Fernie refugees, a woman with three small children was walking down Baker street on Tuesday when she was met by a sympathizing citizen who condoled with her for the loss of everything in the fire. "I have not lost everything," said the plucky woman, "look at my three children, I still have got them."
On Sunday evening three men are said to have been found burned to death at the foot of Victoria avenue, Fernie.
The 49th parallel was wiped out of existence when W. D. Findley, of Spokane, arrived on Sunday evening with a big baggage car load of provisions, blankets, etc. Political boundary lines cut no ice when Anglo-Saxons are in trouble, and Cranbrook and her guests will not soon forget the kindness of the mayor and citizens of Spokane.
F. Robichaud, who is among the refugees from Fernie, tells how, while making his escape from the burning city, his little three months old baby which he was carrying in his arms, was overcome by smoke three times but recovered, while two horses who were breathing the same atmosphere died in their tracks.
J. Stiggins, one of the CPR fire wardens, came in on Monday and reported that thirty-five men who were at camp No. 4, near Hosmer, are accounted for and all the live stock are safe. These men had a very narrow escape and had to swim the Elk river where it was fifteen feet deep. A honeymoon couple, who were staying at the camp, also escaped. Two men, Alex Borden, an old timer along the Crow, and originally from Cape Breton and Frank Thompson, an Englishman, are missing, but it is hoped that they are safe.
B. F. Lester, of the Meikle-Lester Publishing company, of Fernie, received a telegram on Monday from Harry Patterson, representing Miller & Richards, type founders, of Winnipeg, stating that he is shipping new plants for the Free Press, the Ledger and for the Meikle-Lester company. This was done without the asking.
The question of sanitation was taken up as soon as the people began to arrive with the result that measures were taken to keep Cranbrook in a healthy condition, even with its temporary large population.
David Elmer is the right man in the right place looking after the distribution of clothing. Dave is a hustler whatever you put him to.
Speaking of the way Cranbrook handled the crown, W. J. Dent, of Nelson, has the following to say in the Nelson Daily News: Railway men, officials, telegraphers, joined with a hand and in a very short time an almost impossible task had been accomplished. Cranbrook rose nobly to the occasion. Everybody worked. Tents, halls, buildings were all freely offered and quickly put to use, and women and children were made as comfortable as possible. Families had become separated; little tots strayed away from father, mother, brother and sister in the confusion that was inevitable. But a "lost" committee was organized and every effort was made to bring the different members of families together.
The province of Saskatchewan came through with $2,000.
G. G. S. Lindsey, general manager of the Crows Nest Pass Coal company, has promised $5,000 towards the relief fund.
It is understood that the Bank of Hamilton lost several thousand dollars at Fernie by not being able to close its safe in time.


J. McKee, one of the employees of the Elk Lumber company, of Fernie, tells how the fire struck that mill. The stable went first, then the planing mill, and then the other buildings went and last of all the lumber piles. The women were got away early in the game across the Great Northern tracks to the hills where they were safe. The men got into the river and thus saved themselves. Mr. McKee and Rob Fleming walked the boom across the river to Fernie and each packed back fifty pounds of food and fed the women and children. On the way back Mr. McKee saw a nice fat rooster on a stump. That was caught and a mulligan made out of it.


Alex McDougall, of the Fernie Lumber company, placed $10,000 extra insurance on his lumber the day before the fire. E. Scott, one of the Trites-Wood company’s staff, who had never carried fire insurance before, put a policy on his effects in the morning and everything was burned in the afternoon.


"As queen of the earth she reigneth alone." In times of danger and at times when nerve and cool-headedness count, women often play a great part. This was the case at the hospital at Fernie when Nurse Cornet and Nurse Laidlaw carried, led and dragged eighteen patients out of the burning hospital at Fernie and took them to a place of safety. The Coal company sent eight men to help, but only two got there and by the time they did the nurses had already rescued the helpless ones. Miss Cornet and Miss Laidlaw are staying with Dr. and Mrs. Green. This is a case where the Royal Humane Society should issue two of their medals.


When the fire reached the Fernie Lumber company’s mill the wind was blowing a hurricane. The lumber in the yard caught the wind, created by the blaze, was so strong that six and eight inch burning planks were driven through the air for hundreds of feet. The horses were nearly all driven into the river and thus saved, while the women and children were taken to an island and kept there until morning. By the greatest of good fortune the warehouse containing the food supply was saved and Mr. McDougall instructed the cooks to feed all hands as long as was necessary. "Sandy" in spite of his very heavy loss is taking the matter like a Highland Scott and a philosopher.


A meeting of the relief committee was held on Monday evening and it was decided to form a sub-committee consisting of Fernie people. Under the leadership of Mr. McKee a number of Fernie people met the Cranbrook committee and formed committees among themselves to act in conjunction with the Cranbrook committees. Following are the Fernie committees appointed:

Committee on accommodation - J. Parker, T. Bell, B. Jarvis, G. W. Barnwell and J. H. Scott.
Committee on foreigners - F. F. Rabansack, W. S. Costanzo, S. M. Lukas, G. Wasnock.
Committee on the missing - H. Chilton and F. Woodhouse.
Committee to look after children - A. Cartridge, W. Dickinson, R. Linn, P. Atkinson and Wm. Atkinson.
Committee on employment and transportation - Messrs. Waylett, Robertson, Lester, Linn, Dickinson, and Macdonald.


Blessings often come in disguise. Had not the "bump" occurred in the Coal Creek mines, and thus thrown a number of men out of employment temporarily, all the miners would have been going on or coming off shift and the women and children would have had to hustle for themselves. Had this been the case the loss of life would have been far greater than it was.


The following telegram was received on Tuesday in Fernie:

Winnipeg, Man., Aug. R, ‘08. J. Brownlee, Fernie:
You will please co-operate with Crows Nest Pass Coal company and Great Northern in doing what may appear to be necessary to relieve the unfortunate citizens of Fernie from distress.

W. Whyte.


Children’s Relief fund from commercial travelers in Cranbrook during Fernie fire:

T. W. Stovey 10.00
E. F. Davidson 10.00
J. H. Glass 10.00
W. F. Fair 5.00
G. F. Rymal 5.00
J. S. Rankin 2.00
A. E. Hagger 5.00
C. W. Grifin 13.00
Fred Ritchie 5.00
$ 65.00


T. Whalen, of the Napanee hotel has ordered lumber for a new hotel, although almost without insurance on his old. S. Wallace, of the Fernie, has also ordered lumber for a new hotel and will eventually put up a brick and stone structure of the size of the old, 72 rooms.


The Crows Nest Trading company, is also putting up a new store and brick and lumber are ordered.


There is no gaol in Fernie and Chief of Police Gouk dispensed justice to pilferers as follows: Summarily catching one culprit, who had been brought to him by a special constable provisionally sworn in, around the neck, he held him firmly across his knee calling upon a bystander to inflict 50 blows with a pick handle. The sentence was righteously carried out and a second one similarly inflicted rid the town of the marauders.


Ottawa, Aug. 4. - The customs departments has given instructions to all collectors in the west that all supplies for the relief of those who suffered in the Fernie disaster are entitled to free entry. A cabinet meeting was held this afternoon at which it is said, the question of the propriety of making a grant toward the fire sufferers was considered.

Sir Wilfrid Laurier has received a message from the Seattle commercial club extending its sympathy and the offer of its services and asking how it might help the sufferers.


Trail, Aug. 4. - Trail has raised $1800 for the relief of the Fernie sufferers and has sent 10 crates of clothing. Mayor Morin leaves tomorrow for Fernie to make a personal inspection and see what more can be done.

(Nelson Daily News.)

Cranbrook, Aug. 4 - 21:30 - Your correspondent has had access to all orders of Superintendent Brownlee of the CPR and the only possible way in which the story that he had issued orders that no refugee would be transported on the CPR trains could have been understood by any one, lies in the fact that he gave instructions, on the request of the Fernie relief committee, that no person was to be sent back to Fernie until he gave orders, and as a matter of fact, six persons were turned off the train who tried to go from Cranbrook to Fernie, as there was absolutely no accommodation or food for them at that point. But on top of this order he gave instructions to see if arrangements could be made with the Spokane International railway, and if satisfactory, then the refugees could be sent to Spokane as well as to anywhere on the CPR. Mr. Corbin agreed and people have been sent there also.


C.J. South, of Vancouver, superintendent of the Children’s Aid Society, wires: "Command me if I can render assistance to children."


The Trites-Wood company is replacing their old store, claimed to be the finest west of Winnipeg, with a new structure every whit as commodious as their old.


One of the departments which was run in a way that could not be beaten anywhere was the committee on food and Messrs. G. T. Rogers, Rev. Main, W. E. Worden and D. Johnson are to be thoroughly congratulated on the way the multitude were fed. Too much praise cannot be given to L. B. VanDecar for the way he took care of the catering. He was indefatigable and knowing the business so thoroughly everything went without a hitch. Mrs. Tuttle, of Fernie, worked like a Trojan and her smile put new life and hope into many a wary heart. The ladies and gentlemen who acted as waiters are deserving of much commendation, they worked hard and faithfully. Many of the Fernie ladies fell in line and helped by washing dishes and so on.

Relief from outside points has been very prompt. On Sunday a carload of provisions, blankets, etc., arrived from Nelson in charge of Acting Mayor McMorris. The supplies were taken at once to the commissariat department at the curling rink, from which point they were handled. On the Spokane Flyer a huge baggage car, containing all kinds of supplies arrived from Spokane in charge of W. D. Findley. Monetary assistance has been forthcoming from many Canadian cities and contributions from most of the chartered banks have been received. The committee in charge of the receipt of money and goods consists of J.F.M. Pinkham, A. L. McDermot and J. A. Arnold and they are handling their department splendidly.

J.A. Harvey, the chairman of the relief committee and G.H. Thompson, the secretary, have done splendid work and have kept all the committees up their work. The matter of bedding was an item that had to be carefully attended to. Most of the available blankets in Cranbrook were sent to Fernie on Saturday night so that the supply sent by Nelson and Spokane were a very welcome addition to the supply of commodities.

The committee on bedding and material consisting of J.G. McCallum, Robt. Aikens, F. Parks, Dr. Green and F. E. Simpson, saw that everyone had bedding enough to be comfortable.

All trains were met by the committee for that purpose, which consisted of Rev. R. Hughes, Father Choinel, M.A. Beale and Dr. Connolly. On the arrival of each trainload of refugees this committee conducted the homeless to the Auditorium, where they were assigned to their quarters and were fed and if in need of it, clothed.

F. R. Morris, R. G. Patmore and J. D. McBride were a committee to take the names of the arrivals so that track could be kept of them. The accommodation committee had plenty of work, which, however, was heightened by the fact that buildings of all kinds as well as spare rooms were readily placed at their disposal by the owners. In this way all the women and children were taken care of while a number of the men slept in tents, which the committee supplied. Dr. Miles, as chairman of this committee, and W. F. Gurd, S. H. Hoskins, G. Johnson, J. Sarvis, J. F. Armstrong and J. Hutchison saw to it that each batch of arrivals were supplied with adequate accommodation.

Another committee which did very important and useful work was the committee on lost children, and Messrs. Elwell, Ryan and Rev. Flewelling certainly did a great deal to restore children to parents who had missed them during the excitement of the burning of the coal city. The ladies of Cranbrook have done great work with their relief bureau. They collected clothing of all kinds and hundreds of refugees availed themselves of this branch of the relief work and were clothed. David J. Elmer helped in distributing the clothes and Rev. Hughes was absolutely indefatigable in driving all over the town and collecting clothing of all kinds.

Early on Monday morning the Herald established a letter writing bureau at its office and supplied, free of cost stationery and stamps and also the Sunday special edition. Thousands of these were sent all over the world by those who wished their friends to know ABOUT THE DISASTER.


(Written for the Herald.)

At one o’clock on Saturday afternoon I started out up town and everything was as bright and hopeful as ever. With the exception of clouds of smoke which were passing over the city from the bush fire some miles west of town. This occasioned no great anxiety, as it had been smoky for four weeks previous and in the far distance and across from Hosmer fires had been raging all that time. About two o’clock the wind began to blow and men looked up into the banks of smoke as they passed over the town with some little concern. A little before three o’clock the fire bell rang and crowds immediately swarmed round the fire hall wondering anxiously what was going to happen as in the very few minutes appearances betokened the end. The smoke was so thick in the streets that drivers were passing through streets and could not see the crossings. At this time the Fort Steele brewery was raging and several houses had been burned. Wagons were rushing down to the Elk mill with hundreds of pails to avert the threatening danger. After passing the mill and going towards Cedar valley I first realized the seriousness of the occasion and began to advise the people to gather their children and leave the district. Then the cry went up “she’s gone” and the red fiend of flame had jumped the wide river and began to devour the splendid mill and lumber yard. Realizing that escape was cut off through the lumber yard, I gathered a score of women and children and hastened to put them out of danger up the Great Northern track and over the bridge. As we crossed the bridge the last pile of lumber had started to burn and the wind was blowing a hurricane. At times it would lift half a pile of lumber and scatter the burning boards over an area of a hundred yards. As we crossed the bridge it was necessary to shelter our faces from the heat and on arriving on the G.N. station the people were gathered in hundreds waiting to be hastened away to a place of safety Anxious mothers were carrying two and three children who were only half clothed and stupid with fright, others asking for children and husbands, whom they feared would perish in the fiercely on-rushing flames. Fortunately the G.N. train had not left for Rexford and the conductor without any hesitation turned it over as a relief train and as soon as the cars were crowded in every inch of space, fifty men crowding on the engine, then we pulled away towards safety, and as soon as we pulled out another long train of box cars was hurried to the station and as quickly crowded and hurried away. We were carried to the broad river bed under the G.N. bridge and the train hurried back for another load. This batch were sent down to the cut bank when they disembarked in safety. By this time the town had been swept clear with the exception of the fireproof buildings. Danger still threatened us in our camping place and the train came along again to take us away to Michel. Quickly the cars were crowded again and we hurried through the burning bush towards Michel. On reaching Olson we were informed that the GN bridge had gone and despair entered the hearts of the refugees. We started back towards the cut bank, which we considered the safest place. On reaching the No. 4 camp of the Elk Lumber company we found that further advance was almost impossible. We waited for a few minutes and then began our most exciting experience. Just ahead of us was a bridge which we knew could not stand but to go over it meant to go further and through a mile of seething flame on both sides of the track. After a few moments anxious consideration the brave heroes in charge of the train decided to make a fearful dash for safety. As we neared the fire the air began to burn our nostrils and soon the foreign women began to shriek and cry. Those on the platforms of the car had their hair singed and clothes burned and still the brave man at the throttle steamed ahead. Some on the engine begged of him to stop and go back, but never losing his head nor nerve he repelled them and hastened on as fast as he dare. Nothing but the draught from the train saved us from being roasted alive. I felt as we passed through this furnace that the end had come for us at least, but soon we cleared the burning area and arrived at the cut bank where we stayed all night. The greatest praise should be given to the train crew who acted like true heroes throughout. This ended my experience of the fire and while we suffered more than we thought we could bear yet we realize that others have suffered more. Before closing I would like to add my testimony to the care and generosity of the railways. I have traveled between Cranbrook and Fernie several times since the fire and have seen nothing that one could find any fault with either from the officials or servants and words of any kind could not express to the people of Cranbrook the thanks that is due to them.

Rev. I. W. Williamson



(From the Nelson News)

During the past four or five weeks fire has been strongly asserting itself in the limits of the Cedar Valley Lumber company to the west and northwest of Fernie. Attempts were made to deal with the outbreak but with little practical success till a heavy thunder shower quenched the blaze. Later on, it again began to spread, but whether anything in the way of work was done then is not very material as for the second time the rain apparently had done what was necessary. They thought it was out. They never dreamed of any possible chance of serious danger. They, the many-headed public, acted once more on the rotten principle that everybody’s business was the business of no one in particular, though the imminent threat of death and wide flung destruction was lingering at their doors. It only needed a strong wind to wake the danger to the business of its active life. The wind came. Such a wind as never before visited Fernie began to blow from the south and southwest on Saturday, the 1st . The morning had been clear and calm, but by about 10 A.M. a strong breeze had freshened to a gale and by 11 in the forenoon, was blowing a storm from under a clear sky. The wind got under the smouldering heaps of rubbish and in a few minutes the work was started on its way to the Goat ranch. By this time the wind had grown stronger and as the fire advanced it created its own draft. The old town, the pest house and Mutz’s brewery went like tinder and then ,by some extraordinary miracle of the powers of fire, the flames leaped almost through the ether, and fired P. Burns and company’s premises, right in the center of the business district. Some eye witnesses say that to their eyes it seemed as if a blanket of flame shot down the street and struck the Burns building, only to glance off at an angle and strike the Roman Catholic church. Inside of a minute the city was on fire from end to end. The swiftest horse that ever looked through a bridle could not gallop as fast as that fire leaped and hurled itself from building to building here, there and all around without regard to direction. The wind had roared up into a tornado before which the radiant heat flew with the flying shingles and cinders. In the streets the people rushed panic-stricken, blinded with smoke and cinders that had been recently put on as a surface dressing for the roads. A strong man, over 200 pounds in weight, tried to cross the road near the Napanee hotel and was caught in the arms of the wind and slammed like a kitten against a telegraph pole, where he clung for his life. The sky had grown black as the darkest night with smoke and cinders and through the gloom men and women tried to work out a scheme of rescue. There was no organization, nor could human foresight make provision for the truly awful conditions that had arisen. Men grabbed little, screaming children and ran with them to points they considered safe. By 4 o’clock it seemed as if the apocalyptic opening of the sixth seal of the angel of the final destruction of things had come to pass. The city was going to utter ruin. Fire fighting was out of the question. It was a matter of sauve qui peut.

A Slav woman, dull witted, bovine, or rather un-bovine, came rushing near where a man named Scott was fighting fire on the Napanee corner and seven wailing children clung to her. Scott yelled to her: "Take those children back to the coke ovens. Take them back at once." She looked up at him, unsexed, unmothered and fled, anywhere, anyhow, leaving her children, paralyzed with horror, to be carried to safety by Scott and others. The fire, flame, destruction and ruin was added to the crowning terror of wild panic. People of 35 nationalities poured out along the CPR and GNR tracks and tore away up the river banks, toward the high hills, blinded with but the ultimate instinct of saving their own lives. Mothers had their children clutched to their breasts, huddled by them, flying with them, going down in the crush, being trampled on and trampling on weaker than themselves. They ran for the banks of the Elk river and to the little islands and bars in it. It was the only refuge for the hills on both sides of the valley were by this time a seething mass of roaring fire, fed by the heavy forest growth of pine and cedar. The city was gone -- everything was gone. They had their lives and the lives of their children and the rags and clothes they stood up in. The awful touch of nature had reduced every nationality, every rank to the level of primal qualities. And through it all, heroisms were being done, and forgotten as soon as done. The Anglo-Celt, the Canadian and the American once again proved their deserving of life. They took things in hand and were obeyed and followed. Some how, God knows how he did it, but a young fellow, wearing glasses, an operator at Michel or up the line somewhere, managed to make the trip along the CPR tracks and got to windward of the fire just on the west end of what a few hours before was the railway yards of Fernie. Here he managed to cut in a wire, and got a message to Cranbrook and other points for help.



"Mayor Tuttle, Fernie, BC: Our civic sympathy. What is most needed for relief of your people? We want to help. - J.S. Phillips, Acting Mayor. F.E. Goodall, President Chamber of Commerce."


"Mayor Fink, Cranbrook, BC: What is most needed for relief citizens of Fernie? Extend our sympathy command us in any way. - J.S. Phillips, Acting Mayor, F.E. Goodall, President Chamber of Commerce."


"Mayor of Spokane. Require 3000 loaves of bread, canned milk and cream, meats, canned and cured, groceries, tents, bedding, clothing. All will be thankfully received. - J. P. Fink, Mayor Cranbrook."


"J.P. Fink, Mayor Cranbrook: We are sending car of supplies on the Flyer this afternoon: 1500 loaves of bread, canned milk, meats, bedding, tents, coffee, tea, sugar, etc. J.S. Phillips."


"J.P. Fink, Mayor Cranbrook: Will send 3000 loaves of bread on tomorrow morning’s train for you to distribute. - F. E. Goodall."


"Acting Mayor J.S. Phillips: City total loss. Need tents and money. Six thousand people homeless.... W.W. Tuttle, Mayor, Fernie, B.C."

Following is the special appeal made by the president of the Spokane Chamber of Commerce to the Citizens of Spokane:

To the citizens of Spokane:

A meeting of the citizens will be held at the chamber of commerce rooms in the Hutton building this morning at 10 o’clock to organize a relief committee to take charge of the work of securing and sending supplies to the residents of the district around Fernie, BC.

Advices received yesterday are that the residents of that district are in great need of clothing, food and shelter. An appeal is made to each and every citizen of Spokane to aid in the work of securing clothing and money subscriptions. All donations should be delivered at the chamber of commerce rooms before noon today as the value of this relief consists greatly in its timeliness. Spokane is practically the only district that can give immediate aid and it is our duty and privilege to send food and shelter to the people who are destitute because of the fire.

F. E. Goodall,
President Chamber of Commerce.


Assistant Secretary W. D. Finley, of the chamber of commerce, Spokane, offered his services in any capacity and he was sent to Fernie and Cranbrook in charge of the carload of provisions. The work of collecting the immense amount of supplies desired was taken up with a rush. The initiation team of the E-Nak-Ops was drilling in Tull & Gibbs’ store and its members were summoned to assist in the work. E.F. Waggoner, president and manager of the Union Fuel & Ice company, offered his services in any capacity and furnished the committee in charge with three heavy wagons and teams with drivers. P.D. Tull, of Tull & Gibbs provided two wagons and an appeal to the Pacific Transfer company was met with three teams which were used in hauling the heavier loads to the train.

The car which carried the supplies to the Canadian city was set on the loading track at 1:15 yesterday (Sunday) afternoon, 1 hour and 15 minutes before the train left. Almost immediately a string of wagons began turning down the track from Washington street and back up to the two doors of the baggage car, where a force of a dozen men worked loading the provisions.

The bread was secured from the Spokane, Portland and Minnesota bakeries and most of it came to the train fresh from the ovens and so hot that the men could not hold it in their hands in loading. Butter and eggs were secured from the Hazelwood company, the 50 barrels of flour came from the Centennial mill and the canned and cured meats were secured from various sources.

A telegram to D.C. Corbin from the customs official at Nelson, BC , explained that all food and supplies donated to relieve the people of Fernie would be passed without charge and that he would so instruct the customs collectors at Eastport.

The relief committee which took charge of securing the supplies and of loading cars consisted of Acting Mayor J.S. Phillips, President F.E. Goodall of the chamber of commerce, E. F. Waggoner, P.D. Tull, A. W. Jones, secretary of the 150,000 club, O. Gregory Strong, W. D. Winley and G. B. Dresher.

More on the Fernie Fire in Cranbrook Herald of August 13, 1908.

Photo Album relating to the Fernie fire.

Coal ButtonMining Towns