Calgary, AB Packing Plant Blaze, Jan 1913



(W.A.P. Report.)
Calgary, Jan. 12. -- One of the most disastrous fires in the history of Western Canada, occurred today when the large packing plant of P. Burns & Co. was totally destroyed by fire. The loss, including carcasses in cold storage, will probably be in excess of $2,000,000. On account of the low water pressure, the fire department was unable to do effective work, and at a late hour tonight, the fire was still raging.
The loss is serious, in that the local plant was the largest institution of its kind in the west, from which all the western cities, including Vancouver and Victoria and the coast cities, draw largely for their meat supply, and butchering in the open may have to be resorted to in order to prevent a meat famine. The storage plant contained from 15,000 to 20,000 carcasses.
The fire was discovered about 12:30 o'clock on Sunday morning. The whole of the basement was in flames, and the packing plant department, augmented by all of the city fire department, was unable to make any headway against the flames. This was due in a measure to the low water pressure, and also to the ammonia fumes in the basement, which were so strong that the men could not endure them.
Repeatedly the firemen entered the basement, only to be driven back by the overpowering ammonia fumes. In a short time the fire had gotten into the grease-soaked floors of the upper stories, and when this occurred the water had no effect whatever. Several of the firemen had narrow escapes from exploding ammonia tanks, but no one was seriously injured.
The Burns' plant was a local institution with a history. It had a start when P. Burns, then a very young man, came to Calgary, about 20 years ago. It is related that his sole capital was one lone beef. Its growth has kept pace with the development of this section, and it has made its owner one of the richest men in the west, his wealth being reputed to be in the neighborhood of $15,000,000.
Aside from this large plant, the Burns' concern also operates smaller plants in Edmonton and Vancouver, but the bulk of the meat produced went out of the Calgary plant.
The property destroyed was fully insured, the insurance on the stock in storage being in the neighborhood of $1,000,000.
Mr. Burns, head of the concern, is in Toronto, but it is understood that the work of rebuilding the plant on a pretentious scale, will be undertaken as soon as the weather will permit.

Lethbridge Herald Alberta 1913-01-13