Porcupine District, ON Forest Fires, July 1911

Porcupine Golden Avenue before fire Golden Avenue after the fire Porcupine before the fire Fire in Porcupine Ontario Golden Key ONT after fire Porcupine Fire Memorial Marker

BUSH FIRES LEAVE AN AWFUL TRAIL OF DEATH.

PORCUPINE MINING CAMP SCENE OF ONE OF WORST HOLOCAUSTS IN CANADA.

IT IS ESTIMATED THAT THREE HUNDRED LIVES WERE LOST AND SEVERAL MILLION DOLLARS WORTH OF PROPERTY DESTROYED.

HORRIBLE SUFFERING OF PENNED IN PEOPLE.

TERRIBLE SCENES ON THE STREETS OF PORCUPINE AS MEN AND WOMEN RUSHED ABOUT ALL ABLAZE -- MINERS CAUGHT IN A SHAFT -- MOTHER WITH CHILD REFUSES TO GO TO SAFETY UNTIL HUSBAND IS FOUND -- TORONTO RUSHES RELIEF TO DEVASTATED DISTRICT -- SCORES OF MINE PROPERTIES WIPED OUT.

The following is a partial summary of the disastrous fires in the Porcupine district yesterday. The known dead are:
Drowned In Porcupine Lake:
WILLIAM A. MOORE.
R. B. MONDUE.
NATHAN HAAS, mining engineer, Spokane.
MERVIN STRAIN, Haileybury.
ANDREW LA RUE.
Suffocated Or Burned To Death.
ANGUS BURT, assayer, West Dome, and MRS. BURT, wife and three year old daughter.
McQUEEN, carpenter, West Dome, and wife.
C. E. ADAMS, Philadelphia Mine.
THOS. GEDDES.
CAPT. GEO. DUNBAR, South Porcupine.
ROBERT A. WEISS, manager, of West Dome.
CAPT. JACK HAMILTON, West Dome Mine.
JOSEPH FLETCHER, United Porcupine.
WM. GHOR.
DAN SMITH.
Twenty-seven known to be dead in West Dome shaft, names not to hand.
Thirty foreigners known to be dead in Dome shaft.
Missing:
DWYER, of United Porcupine.
Only three of the 84 employees of West Dome have been accounted for up to noon yesterday. There is no means of estimating the dead at the Dome Mines, but the manager and MRS. MEEK, CAPT. LAWSON, the clerical force; HENRY HANS, mill construction foreman and all with the exception of Miners Muckers are safe. The Dome has nearly 300 employees.
Mines Burned:
Dome Mines all of the buildings except Manager MEEK'S house; loss $800,000; includes all shaft houses, new forty-stamp mill almost completed and large up to date compressor plant.
North Dome Mines, loss $50,000, plant and camps.
Vipond, loss $100,000, plant.
Camps Foley and O'Brien, total loss, estimated at $100,000.
Philadelphia Mines, loss about $50,000.
United Porcupine Mines, loss about $20,000.
Eldorado Porcupine, loss small buildings destroyed.
Standard, about $40,000.
Imperial, about $35,000.
Success, probably destroyed.
West Dome Mines, plant and all buildings loss about $50,000.

Three Hundred Lives Lost.
Toronto, July 13. -- It is impossible at this writing to state with certainty the extent of the loss of life and property, but late reports place the loss of lives at three hundred and property at several million dollars. The greatest catastrophe appears to have happened at South Porcupine. Of six hundred people, who sought refuge in the lake when the fire swept through Porcupine, 200 persons, many of them women with children in their arms, lost their lives.
Relief trains came out of Cochrane this morning with three hundred and twenty-five women and children and a relief train also came out of Porcupine with 150. They are sending a train into Cochrane and one into Porcupine. Three cars with provisions went into Cochrane this morning. The report from Porcupine shows conditions to be very serious. Tero Lake, South Porcupine, Pottsville, West Dome, East Dome, and all "924," and the mines in that zone are completely wiped out.
The names and number of dead can only roughly be estimated, but a large number or prospectors in the bush must have perished in the seething furnace of flames driven by a sixty-mile gale. It is known that of the staff of 300 at the Dome but a few were saved, while at the West Dome but three out of 84 employees are now known to be alive. Along the highway between West Dome and South Porcupine over a comparatively open section, there are six charred bodies.
In the ruins of the town of South Porcupine there lie the bodies of WM. GOHR and his clerk; MR. SMITH; Captain DUNBAR and TOM GEDDES. Early yesterday morning dense clouds of smoke could be seen in the southwest but the fire was apparently remote.
When the flames were overwhelming the town residents were taken off in launches, boats and canoes and rowed to the other side of the lake. The women and children were taken across first, and finally everyone was in comparative safety on the other side.
There was one exception, and that the most pitiful of all. MRS. WILLIAM GOHR, with her baby in her arms, refused to leave the town until she had news of her husband. MR. GOHR, like the others who perished in town, had gone back in an effort to save some valuables, and with his clerk was penned in the building. For over two hours MRS. GOHR stood in the water of the lake, a hundred feet from shore, calling for her husband and refusing to leave until he was found. Even after all had deserted the town and the fire had died out, she remained in a tent on the shore waiting for the recovery of her husband's body.
To add to the terror of the situation scores of horses, cattle and dogs ran wild through the town, their disembowled and scorched bodies now line the streets with the bodies of dead men. Acts of heroism were too numerous to mention in detail, while the horrors of the holocaust are too gruesome for print. One man said after the fire: "The man who could go through this, could travel through hell with a smile on his face."
One man was led through the town with both eyes burned out and moaning because his partner had perished. Another's face and arms were a mass of blisters, and still another had his abdomen burnt open by burns. HARRY ROCHE, a mining engineer, and S. SHIELD, representative of the F. B. O'Brien mine, beat their way back through town when the flames were at their height and brought out an unknown man who was so seriously burned that a portion of his hand fell when he was picked up. Little will ever be known of the experiences of some, as the dead remain in the bush but a few have already come to light. At United Porcupine, where lived the three FLINN brothers, never before separated, two are yet alive, but one remains behind a charred mass. At this property there was no shelter from flames and the men sought refuge on an outcropping of rock there. ANDY YUILL, the foreman, perished with FRANK FLINN and JOS. FLETCHER, while another named DWYER, a Colorado miner, is missing, and JOSEPH GILBERT, GIBBS, whose face was burned beyond recognition, and whose arms and body were scorched. Flames came upon them with such rapidity that blankets and towel cased about them could not be obtained, and yet these party men survived the furnace, and after the fire had passed made their way over five miles into Porcupine and are now on their way home to Bracebridge. At the Philadelphia mine, when it bacame evident that the mine must go, Manager E. ASHMORE, MR. and MRS. SAMUEL SHOVEL and others, retreated towards town. With the party was O. E. ADAMS, a resident of Philadelphia. What occurred at West Dome, the centre of the most terrible part of the catastrophe, will probably never be known, but so old and experienced a miner as ROBERT A. WEISS would probably never have led his associates into a timber shaft unless all other means of escape was cut off. There in the West Dome shaft 27 bodies, including that of MR. WEISS, were found. It is known that 100 pounds of dynamite were in a bucket at the mouth of the shaft. Of the 84 employees only three are known to be alive.

The Lethbridge Daily Herald 1911-07-13

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MARVELLOUS ESCAPES FROM DEATH IN THE PORCUPINES.

NO ACCURATE ESTIMATE HAS YET BEEN MADE OF THE LIVES LOST IN FIRE-SWEPT DISTRICT -- MOTHERS AND CHILDREN STOOD IN WATER WHILE FOREST FIRES SURGED ABOUT THEM -- RUSHING RELIEF.

North Bay, Ont., July 13. -- The fires after repeaing their havest of death have either burned themselves out or are under control and no further disasters are anticipated. A relief train left North Bay this afternoon for Porcupine with provisiions, blankets, tents, etc. Survivors from Porcupine tell stories of lying in swamps beside lakes and escaping with scorched lungs and burned bodies. Many women and children stood chin deep in water at South Porcupine for five hours and survived the terrible heat and smoke while many sunk beneath the waves.
BILLY MOORE, the well known mining man, got into a canoe with JACK McMURRICH, barrister, BROOKS of Montreal and GEORGE GREEN, and without paddles tried to breast the waves with short sticks. The canoe was overturned and MOORE was drowned, the others escaping. A gruesome sight at North Bay today was the loading of a car of coffins which went forward on a relief train in charge of General Passenger Agent R. PARR. Word has been received from the stricken town of Cochrane to stop all people going there, as great difficulty is experienced in providing for those who have remained since the fire. Eight deaths are already reported from the Redstone district. CAMPBELL was the only man to escape. Captain YOST had a hard fight at Goose Lake and lost seven men. Special trains on the government railways are rushing supplies to Porcupine and Cochrane, and tents and provisions will be plentiful after the first night. The fire swept clean the township of Langmuir, Eldorado, Shaw, Delora, McArthur and Cripple Creek districts, and how many of the thousands of prospectors escaped cannot be estimated. The Hudson's Bay Co. are forwarding supplies to the stricken towns and everybody will be cared for. A party of Queen's University students who have been touring the mineral belt escaped with their lives by a narrow margin. It included WILMER CAMPBELL; CHARLES S. SPEARMAN; WM. BATTERSBEE; SHORTY HUGG and OULSOTTE. They had to run for miles with fire all around. Manager MOCK of the Dome mine went through this morning whith his mother to Copper Cliff. Both suffered in the shaft and both are blind, temporarily at least, while the mother may die. C. H. YOUNG, ex-mayor of Haileybury, is chairman of the emergency committee at South Porcupine, and is doing wonderful work in caring for the sufferers. JACK HUME, pugilist, is also doing good work. Every man coming out reports seeing many dead bodies on trails and roads, indicating that the death toll will be very heavy.

Just Smoking Ruins Left.
Porcupine, July 13, -- South Porcupine and Pottsville today stand blackened and smoking ruins. There are over one hundred lives lost at a conservative estimate and the money loss runs into many thousands.

The Lethbridge Daily Herald Alberta 1911-07-14

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DEATHS LESS THAN ONE HUNDRED.

IN THE FIRES IN NEW ONTARIO MINING DISTRICT.

TWO DISTINCT FIRES -- ONE WIPED OUT COCHRANE AND THE OTHER PORCUPINE.

Cobalt, Ont., July 15. -- The total dead in the bush fires is presumed now to be more than one hundred, the area burned ten square miles, the cause the carelessness of prospectors in extinguishing fires made for cooking purposed.
Towns Destroyed:
South Porcupine, Pottsville and Cochrane.
Partially Destroyed:
Golden City and Kelso.
Total subscriptions received by the Northern Ontario relief fund, $20,000.
The Cochrane and Porcupine fires were scores of miles apart and the one conflagration had no connection with the other. Work on the rebuilding of South Porcupine, including the mine buildings, have already commenced. Three train loads of supplies have reached the afflicted districts and more will arrive today. There is no lack of provisions and shelter of a kind for all. Those who desire to leave Porcupine or Golden City have been brought and forwarded to their destinations.
DAN A. YOST and C. A. BURDICK, engineers of New York, were overtaken by the flames while in Shaw township near King Porcupine mines. They made their was to Goose Lake and there submerged themselves, fighting off the flames that swept around them and the dense clouds of smoke that hung over them. They were joined by several others who ran through the bush from the Hudson's Bay camp two miles away. The cook of King Porcupine mines and four others were among those lost. The cook, whose name is unknown, left the camp at Goose Lake to warn the four there and none of the four have been heard of since. It is reported, but lacks confirmation, that seven unknown bodies have been found in the base line, Tisdale, a mile south of Vipond. Word from the township of Denton in the Cripple Creek district, is to the effect that the country was swept but that the loss of life, if any, is as yet unknown. Five empty canoes are floating on Mud Lake in that township. Bristol was also swept and no work has yet been heard from the GOLDEN btothers, who made the rich stakes there several weeks ago. They were to go into Bristol the day of the fire and it is hoped that they got to the northwest of the fire zone.

Total Deaths Less Than A Hundred.
Toronto, July 14. -- Appalling as is the total loss of life as the result of the Porcupine fires, it is satisfactory to know from additional details to hand the total loss will probably not exceed the estimate of 100 published yesterday and may be twenty or thirty less than that number. The known number of identified dead now number 55. Those whose names were not contained in the list published yesterday being DIEDLOS DREPOACER, a Syrian, address unknown. The mother-in-law of MEEK of the Dome mine, died in the hospital. JOHN BILOW, a German. These errors were in yesterday's list:
STANLEY FITZMAURICE should be STANLEY FITMAGEE.
JOHN WALL should be A. AHL.
CHARLES BROOKER should be PARRY BROOKINS.
CHESTER HENNING should be LESTER HENNIGER.
J. W. CRANSAW should be C. HANSHAW.
E. THERIN was published as SHERRIN.
Some more deaths include the following:
HUGH MEAHAN, Sudbury, burned.
JOHN MacDONALD, Egansville, burned.
ARTHUR ATHOA, Copper Cliff, burned.
PETRO DE PAULO, Copper Cliff, burned.
VICTOR DERA, Copper Cliff, burned.
Amont the injured in Lady Minto hospital, New Liskeard, is B. C. BISSETT, of Strathcopa, Alta.

The Lethbridge Daily Herald Alberta 1911-07-15