Chinatown Fire: 0050.0147

CONFLAGRATION RAGES IN CRANBROOK’S CHINATOWN – Several Buildings Are Razed In Spectacular Blaze Yesterday Afternoon. – Charles Chenier Is Under Arrest, Charged With Setting Out Fire – Remanded For Hearing Until Monday.

            Cranbrook fire fighters fought a stubborn blaze yesterday afternoon for two hours before bringing the fire under control.  When the alarm was turned in at 4 o’clock for a blaze originating in a shack on Durick avenue owned by Mah Wee, tongues of flame were licking up adjoining buildings, spreading with great rapidity.  Fanned by a strong southwest wind the fire demon claimed building after building, flying embers igniting the building of James Kerrigan on the opposite side of the street, which was on fire a dozen times and subdued without much damage.

            For a time it looked like the entire business section was doomed, the high wind carrying burning embers high in the air and starting a number of spot fires throughout the business district.  Places ignited included the Cranbrook Auditorium, the Salvation Army, Leask’s Transfer office, Cranbrook Body Works and a number of other business places.  Prompt action on the part of willing workers subdued all the spot fires with the exception of the Cranbrook Body Works building, the roof of which is gutted and considerable loss sustained to occupants by water.

Good Pressure

            Cranbrook ratepayers can shake hands with themselves for approving last year of an extension to the water system, which cost $75,000.  It paid for itself in yesterday’s conflagration.  The old reservoir would have been drained long before the blaze was subdued.  The pressure was 105 pounds and with six streams of water in play varied but little during the two hours blaze.  Every piece of fire fighting apparatus was brought into play.  Delay in getting water through the first line of hose was caused by a stone working into the nozzle and later by a piece of wood finding its way into the hose line.

Fire Losses

            Mah Wee, lot 22, block 36 – loss to building $400.  Loss to contents $200.

            Dennis Quong, lot 21, block 36 – loss to building $1500.  Loss to contents $200.

            Lee Wah Lim, lot 20, block 36 – loss to building $1500.  Loss to stock $2000.

            Lee Look, lot 19, block 36 – loss to building $2500.  Loss to contents $800.

            Cranbrook Body Works – loss to building $150.

            Minor losses not yet adjusted will total less than $100.

Charged With Setting Fire

            Charles Chenier was arrested during the progress of the fire charged with starting the blaze.  It is said he had an altercation with the man who rented the shack in which the blaze started and is charged with setting the fire.  He came before Magistrate Leask this morning in the city police court and was remanded until Monday on request of the provincial police, who have summoned a number of witnesses for the hearing.

Warning To Car Drivers

            Cranbrook has reached the stage where motor car interference at fires has become a danger, not only to pedestrians, but car drivers thoughtlessly drive over lines of hose, injuring same.  From now on the provincial police will enforce section 11a of the Motor Vehicle Act.  For the benefit of those not familiar with same this section says,

            “11a.  Every person driving or operating a motor-vehicle on any highway, upon the approach of a motor-vehicle driven or operated by the fire department of a municipality in responding to an alarm of fire, or by a police officer or constable in the discharge of his duty giving repeated and audible signals or warnings by bell or siren horn, shall immediately drive his motor-vehicle to a position as near as possible and parallel to the right-hand curb or edge of the highway, and shall stop his motor-vehicle and keep the same at a standstill until otherwise directed by a police officer or constable or until the approaching motor-vehicle has passed.



            City Superintendent Philpot, while assisting running hose, suffered a painful injury, having two finger nails of his left hand torn off.  Mr. Philpot , Walter Soden and other city employees rendered valuable assistance.

*  *  *

            James Kerrigan and Co.’s building was well guarded by firemen and volunteer help.  In another column of this paper Mr. Kerrigan expresses his appreciation.

*  *  *

            Frank Dezall and George Moir did good work in saving the United Church rectory.

*  *  * 

            Chief Adams placed two firemen on guard throughout the night, with sufficient hose to drown out any flare-ups.

*  *  * 

            A flock of chickens, geese and ducks, cooped up in the rear of the Lee Look building, survived the dense smoke clouds of two hours duration and were rescued after the fire was brought under control.

*  *  * 

            Residents in the path of the flames prepared everything in readiness to move.  At 5 0’clock, when the fire reached its most critical stage, upwards of thirty spot fires were extinguished.

*  *  * 

            George Reece, ex-fire chief, was lined up with the army of volunteer helpers.

0050.0147: Chinatown Fire

Local man charged with starting fire in Chinatown, which caused damage to many buildings and razed several.

Medium:  Newspaper - Text
Date:  July 23, 1931
Pages:  1
Publisher:  Cranbrook Courier
Collection:  Columbia Basin Institute (0050)


conflagration chinatown arrest fire fighters business district water system provincial police motor vehicle act rectory


People arrow Maharrow
People arrow Moirarrow
People arrow Kerriganarrow
People arrow Leaskarrow
People arrow Leearrow
People arrow Quongarrow
People arrow Chenierarrow
People arrow Philpotarrow
People arrow Sodenarrow
People arrow Dezallarrow
People arrow Adamsarrow
People arrow Reecearrow
Social arrow Ethnic Groups arrow Chinesearrow
Cities arrow Cranbrook arrow Services arrow Fire Department and Firesarrow
Cities arrow Cranbrook arrow Services arrow Policing arrow Provincialarrow
Cities arrow Cranbrook arrow Street Names arrow 7th Avenue Sarrow
Cities arrow Cranbrook arrow Street Names arrow Durick Avenuearrow
Cities arrow Cranbrook arrow Buildings arrow Auditoriumarrow
Cities arrow Cranbrook arrow Businesses arrow Garages arrow Cranbrook Body Worksarrow
Cities arrow Cranbrook arrow Utilities arrow Waterarrow
Government arrow Officials arrow Judgesarrow
Cities arrow Cranbrook arrow Businesses arrow Cartage and Fuel arrow Leask Auto Freight and Storagearrow
Cities arrow Cranbrook arrow Churches arrow Salvation Armyarrow
Cities arrow Cranbrook arrow Churches arrow Unitedarrow


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