Herbertville, QB Town Fire, May 1943


Herbertville, Que., May 17. (CP) -- At least 270 persons were in temporary homes last night as the result of a $250,000 blaze, resulting from a grass fire which Saturday night swept through 50 buildings -- including 26 dwellings -- in this Lake St. John district town, 26 miles west of Chicoutimi.
With half the town a smoking ruin an emergency committee sent messages to Prime Minister MacKenzie King and Premier Godbout asking for help, especially in reconstructing and provisioning homes.
Most of the 42 families left homeless by the fire, have lost everything. Those who moved their furnishings to the homes of neighbors early in the fire watched their neighbors' homes burn. Others who moved their belongings into the street watched the fire spread along the board-walks and into the piles of furniture.
Mayor Raoul Desbiens said no one was hurt. He also announced that insurance covered only a part of the damage.
A grass fire in fields adjacent to the town got out of control and fanned by a stiff north-west wind, ignited a big shed. The fire quickly spread to adjoining buildings and soon the town was burning in a spectacular blaze.
It was hours before the blaze was brought under control.
Firemen, moving a chest of drawers from one furniture piled street, heard a baby sobbing. They opened one of the drawers and found the baby inside. It had been placed there for safety by a parent who had gone back to make certain other children were safe.

Winnipeg Free Press Manitoba 1943-05-17