Fernie, Michel and other towns, BC Terrible Forest Fires, Aug 1908

Remains of Fernie Remains of Fernie Ruins at Fernie Ruins of Fernie Smouldering Remains of Fernie


Michel, B.C., August 1. -- The worst forest fire in the history of this town is raging on the hills south and north of it, fanned by a terrific wind.
The fire was carried for miles at a time.
No damage has yet been done to buildings. This fact is due entirely to the northwest wind.
People are moving out to Michel prairie or any place that might possibly afford a place of safety.
The worst danger now is the fire raging near Sparwood and following the mountains along the C. P. R.
No communications from Hosmer or Fernie.
At Hosmer the G.N.Ry. depot was burned this afternoon and the town is reported doomed.
If the fire spreads east from the Elk River along the C.P.R. nothing can save this town.
PETE CAMPBELL just here from Sparwood with three men badly burned trying to save the Sparwood Lumber Company's mills half way between here and Fernie. The injured men were at once taken to the hospital. Two are in a precarious condition.
MR. FORESTER, manager of the mill with his wife and about thirty men were last seen trying to save the mill. These men state that the whole country is a seething hell of fire everywhere which spreads so rapidly as to make it impossible to escape.
Four Men Dead.
The body of PETE MILLER, generally known as SCOTTY MILLER was found lying on the C.P.R. tracks. He evidently received wounds trying to flee from the holocaust covering hundreds of square miles.
The bodies of four men were brought in by the Great Northern Yard Engine. These men lost their lives trying to save the large Great Northern bridge over the Elk river fifteen miles from here, which is totally destroyed.
Hosmer and Fernie are reported to have burned to the ground entirely.
From Michel west to Fernie everything is destroyed.
It is feared that the loss of life will be the greatest since the San Francisco disaster.
The situation here is unchanged.
The hills surrounding the town are a seething furnace.
A C.P.R. engine is here ready to take the people to Crow's Nest if it comes to the worst.
The situation is almost beyond description, only an eye witness can picture the horrors of a town of over three thousand souls hemmed in on all sides by walls of fire. It will take days to fully ascertain the extent of the loss of lives and property.
Fernie Wiped Out.
W. CARSWELL, assistant superintendent of the Great Northern just arrived here from Fernie after an exciting trip, several miles of the distance being made of foot, through the burning district. The rest of the way was made on a handcar.
MR. CARSWELL left Fernie at 7:30 last night. The entire town has been burned to the ground, including the entire business section, excepting the fireproof warehouse of the Western Canada Wholesale and the coal company's square.
The Great Northern depot and all the company's buildings were lost.
Eighteen hundred people were taken out on G.N. cars to a large clear place three miles from Fernie.
No details are obtainable as to fatalities, it being impossible to get to the business section.
Hosmer Still Intact.
Hosmer is still intact when he passed but the fire has crossed the river and there was no hope of saving the town.
Two Elk River bridges totally destroyed.
JULES GABRIAN, timber boss at Campbell's Siding three miles from Sparwood reports that MR. and MRS. FORESTE and twenty men arrived at his place at midnight, having escaped from the fire by escaping to the burned ground.
Three men were killed and many more not accounted for.
Many of the destitute people of Fernie will be brought here to be cared for unless this town will also meet the fate of Fernie.
Special efforts are being made by the Trites Wood Co. to hurry provisions here as fast as possible. Strenuous efforts will be required to care for the homeless and destitute.
The News In Lethbridge.
Nothing else was talked of on the streets yesterday but the terrible catastrophe at Fernie. Very little information was obtainable but the fact that the city of Fernie and possibly the town of Hosmer had been completely wiped off the map was known and naturally such a devestating disaster occupied the mind of every person.
Practically the only information that reached the city during the day was received by Mayor HENDERSON in a brief appeal for aid from Mayor TUTTLE of Fernie and a special despatch to the Daily Herald from its wideawake correspondent at Michel.
Alarming reports of the loss of life were circulated but they could not be confirmed. It was rumored that 600 persons had lost their lives. Another report said that Cranbrook, west of Fernie, had also been a victim of the fire but up till the time of going to press the Herald had no confirmation in any way of that story.
Bush Fires To Blame.
Bush fires are responsible for the Fernie and Hosmer holocausts. Fires have been raging in the mountains about Fernie most of the summer and Saturday's wind-storm in all likelihood carried the flames from the mountains to the towns in the valley. Once the frame buildings in Fernie and Hosmer were ignited all the fire brigades along the line could not have prevented the progress of the flames as the wind must have been blowing a hurricane through the mountain passes. As all travellers know the towns in the Crow's News Pass are situated in a narrow valley, surrounded by forest covered mountains. Our despatch from Michel indicates that town is completely surrounded by flames but that the town has not yet suffered any damage.

The Lethbridge Daily Herald Alberta 1908-08-02