New Westminster, BC City Fire, Sep 1898
AFTER THE FIRE.
A CITY OF TENTS SPRINGS UP AT NEW WESTMINSTER.
SCENES AND INCIDENTS.
THE PEOPLE STUNNED BY THEIR LOSSES -- ENERGY DISPLAYED BY THE BURNT OUT STOREKEEPERS -- SNEAK THIEVES TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE FIRE TO PLY THEIR TRADE -- INSURANCE LOSSES -- PRINCIPAL COMPANIES INVOLVED.
Vancouver, Sept. 12. -- At New Westminster this morning there are many peculiar scenes after the fire. On the wide, open space, just beyond where the fearful force stopped, a town of tents has arisen. The provincial government and Vancouver
authorities have housed in tents lent by the militia
department, all the homeless sufferers. Blankets
by the hundreds formed beds and the burned out families seem to be as comfortable as possible under the circumstances. All through the unfortunate victims of the flames have borne their ruin stoically. All through the hours of the conflagration they were calm as death, today they are just the same. Their losses have made them almost insensible to thought. During the fire, save for the roaring of the flames, and the shouting of the firemen and Chinese, all was quiet, no crying or panic was seen or heard in the crowds of burnt-out and destitute people. They only appeared intent on saving what they had been able to secure from their destroyed homes, and watched with a kind of inquisitiveness the terrible havoc made by their unrelenting foe, and quietly wondered when the conflagration would burn itself out. As usual at fires, a number of robberies took place, and more than one store was pillaged. A jeweler alleges that he had a number of watches stolen, while it is said that the till was stolen from a bar. JOHNSON'S boot store was entered, while some of the stock was being taken out, and several men wre noticed deliberately helping themselves to boots which might fit them. JACK JOHNSON says that the firm's loss will be about $6,000 or $7,000.
The chief of police, when asked if there had been any arrests on account of looting, answered in the negative. He said it was impossible to watch everybody, but he could see there had been little or no thieving. His theory to the origin of the fire is that a spark from one of the steamers mush have ignited the bay on Brackman & Kerr's wharf.
"It was the worst thing I ever saw, there is no way of describing the course of the fire, it seemed to come from everywhere."
Already the active merchants of the Royal City are starting to rebuild the stores and renew business. ANNANDALE, grocer, whose premises were totally destroyed, started building a new store in the afternoon and will be open today. He is nothing if not energetic. The C. P. R. only lost one refrigerator car, the station and baggage room were burnt, but everything of value was saved.
One sick mother in New Westminster, who had to be carried out of a house in danger, suddenly remembered that her three year old child was missing. She sent her husband back to look for the child and he found the baby crouching down beside a stove, fear stricken. The rescue was made only just in time. It is reported that several horses were roasted to death in the fire.
Fire companies interested in the loss are: London Assurance company, which insured all the Sun Life property, estimated at about $1,000,000; Commercial Assurance; Royal, London and Lancashire; Sun; North British and Mercantile; Liverpool London and Globe; Union British American; Hartford of Connecticut; Aetna Insurance Co.; Atlas; Alliance; Guardian; Manchester; Western of Toronto; Northern Insurance Co.; Phoenix of London; Phoenix of Hartford; Lancashire; Insurance Company of North America; National of Ireland; Scottish Union; National.
The Street Railway company began business immediately and handled thousands of passengers from Vancouver. The Westminster office of the company is today established in an old car in the middle of Columbia street.
Vancouver, Sept. 12. -- Messages offering aid and sympathy, dispatched from both sides of the boundary line to New Westminster have been the means of putting fresh heart into the sufferers by Sunday morning's fire and the result is seen today by the resumption of business. Even before the ashes have ceased to smoulder new stores are rising to take the place of the burned down edifices. Banks, Insurance men, and other merchants are conducting business just the same as if no terrible fire had wiped out the Royal City, and while the work of building new temporary stores goes on, dangerous ruins are being pulled down. Relief is being distributed wherever needed and gratitude is expressed on all hands over the assistance received and promised from outside places. People are finding places to sleep, and temporary conditions are not so seriously uncomfortable. The feeling is general throughout the city that New Westminster will rise in triumph from its ashes. The spirit of the leading business men is enthusiastic in this respect. The idea of allowing the exhibition to be declared off or moved away from the Royal City is not given any encouragement and it is altogether likely that arrangements will go right ahead, as if nothing in the way of a serious fire had happened.
Any kind of temporary quarters are held in high value at present. The owner of the Queen's hotel, who would a few days before the fire have been willing to rent his place for about $50 a month, is said to have refused an offer of $800 a month.
The Buildings Burned.
Vancouver, Sept. 11. -- The appalling nature of the New Westminster fire becomes evident as the loss is figured up to $2,500,000. The following list shows the names of the chief business blocks and public buildings destroyed where known, the approximate loss.
Starting at Front Street the buildings burned were:
BRACKMAN & KER'S wharf and contents, valued at $10,000.
New Vancouver Coal company's wharf.
Canadian Pacific Navigation company's wharf.
CUNNINGHAM Houses (four).
Western Fisheries company, with back.
No. 3 fire hall.
GILLEY Bros. wharf and warehouse.
Canadian Pacific railway station.
Quong Onwo company's building.
BRACKMAN & KER'S store and full stock of flour.
JAMES WISE building.
CHARLES McDONOUGH'S store.
Armstrong's English block.
On Columbia street, the principal business street, the buildings destroyed include:
Annadeles' and Fales' stores.
Bank of Montreal.
Bank of British Columbia.
New Westminster Columbian, newspaper.
WINTERMUTE'S furniture factory.
Fire Hall No. 1.
Postoffice and customs' building.
Globe House (MRS. RAE.)
Central telephone office.
TRAPP'S auction store.
Masonic building and Odd Fellows' building.
SINCLAIR Canning company's building and season's pack.
Methodist church ($10,000.)
Baptist church ($10,000.)
Episcopalian cathedral ($25,000.)
St. Leonard's ($5,000.)
HERRIN'S opera house ($20,000.)
EWANS' residence ($35,000,) and about two hundred and fifty houses on Agnes street, Royal avenue, Douglas street and other roads.
Winnipeg Free Press Manitoba 1898-09-13