Nelson, BC Hotel Strathcona Fire, May 1955
SEVEN PERISH IN FIRE.
Nelson, B.C. (AP) - Seven persons were feared to have perished Friday in an early morning fire that consumed the city's oldest hotel, the Strathcona, in half an hour.
Two charred bodies were found by firemen and five other residents of the three story frame hotel were still missing. Five guests were injured and two firemen were overcome by smoke.
First reports that one of the bodies was that of a child proved erroneous. Both were adults. There was no immediate identification.
Two persons originally reported missing have been found.
Fire Chief E. S. Owens said he held little hope for the missing.
"I'm afraid it is hopeless - utterly impossible," he said.
Property loss was estimated at $85,000 but it may go higher when a complete check is made of personal belongings lost in the blaze.
Hotel Register Destroyed.
Identity of the dead and missing was not immediately available. The hotel register was destroyed in the fire.
There were 60 persons in the hotel, men, women and children, when the first alarm sounded about 1 a.m.
Within minutes, the frame building was a mass of flames shooting from windows, doorways, and soon through the roof. The flames were seen 17 miles away.
The hotel was used mainly as a residence for the aged in Nelson. Many were permanent guests.
Two Trapped On Top Floor.
Two of the presumed dead were an elderly woman in a wheelchair and a 80-year-old man, trapped on the top floor of the flaming structure.
Some women were carried to safety by volunteer firemen and others were rescued by Owen and his men. Two survivors were taken from a second-story window ledge where they had hung by their fingertips as smoke and flames belched from the windows.
Screams of the trapped could be heard blocks away.
"I could hear the screams for help from the rectory," said Father R. D. Anderson, of a Roman Catholic cathedral six blocks from the fire scene.
Hang Out Of Windows.
"People were hanging out of the windows when we got there," the fire chief said.
"There were horrible screams. Their hands were being burned and they were afraid to jump."
Firemen set up a loud speaker ordering the men and women to hang on until ladders reached them. There were no nets.
Within 30 minutes of the first alarm, all that remained standing was one corner of the hotel.
Owens said cause of the fire was not known.
Nelson, located on the shores of the west arm of Kootenay Lake, is about 250 miles east of Vancouver.
The Daily Chronicle Centralia Washington
Listing of the Casualties:
JOHN THOMAS PRICE, 89.
HARUMI SHINMOTO, 21.
GERTRUDE ELLEN EDEY, 69.
MARGARET HELEN SINCLAIR, 73.
QUENTIN MacDONALD, 45.
RUDY SYMINGTON, 10.