125 Are Dead in Forest Fire
August 8, 1908
A bought of disastrous forest fires in Western Canada destroy homes and kill people, so surrounding cities send money and aid.
The latest estimates of the dead in the Elk river disaster by bush fires which have been raging from Michel to Fernie, in Western Canada, is 125 persons. The property loss is $5,000,000 in Fernie, making the total loss $8,000,000 and 600 persons of that city’s inhabitants are homeless. The residents have been taken in trains to places of safety and are now destitute. Thousands of dollars have been sent by western Canadian cities to the relief of the destitute. Medical supplies are greatly needed. Fernie, with its lumber mills and railway terminals, is wiped out. The fire is still raging around Hosmer and Sparwood, but Michel is safe, the wind having dropped. If a gale springs up that city will be again in danger soon. Seventy men in the camps of the Elk River company perished. The exact number of fatalities may never be known, and there seems no way in the meantime of procuring an accurate list. Reports are conflicting. Reports received at Michel place the number of dead at Fernie at 102, with sixty-four others burned in a logging camp at Elk river. An unofficial statement said to have come from Fernie places the official list of dead at Fernie and the surrounding camps at 125, with the property loss at $8,000,000. Saturday night was a frightful one of excitement, and many heartrending scenes were witnessed. It was spent in getting many of the women and children on the trains and starting them for Cranbrook. Many harrowing tales were told. One women of West Fernie had just emerged from her home, which was on fire. She dropped dead of heart disease. Neighbors buried her in her garden, and then ran for their lives. In another part of the city an old man, an invalid, was carried a short distance, but the heat became too great and she perished.
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“125 Are Dead in Forest Fire,” Black Virginia: The Richmond Planet, 1894-1909, accessed October 19, 2018, https://blackvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/698.