|From the Ottawa Citizen 30 December 1953|
Police Holding Passenger
Dead Man in SleeperMay be from City
Snow Sifts Down on Blazing Sleeper
18 Escape in Train Blaze at Pembroke
PEMBROKE (Staff) One man, reported to be an Ottawa doctor, but as yet unidentified, was burned to death and 18 other passengers narrowly missed the same fate as a CNR sleeping car burst into flames near here early today.
The sleeper caught fire a few minutes after the CNR's crack No. 1 transcontinental pulled out shortly after 2 a.m. Passengers tumbled in terror from the rear door and several smashed windows. Heroine of the rescue was Mrs. Charles Hoyt of Ottawa, who is credited with saving several lives by smashing a window to safety.
Three Ottawans were among those who were saved, although there were some injuries among them. Passengers included:
Passenger Held by Police
Another passenger, Charles Faucault of Noranda, is being held by Ontario Provincial Police following intensive questioning. Late this morning, police took him into custody on a mental illness charge.
Porter on fhe car. Joseph Bailey of Montreal, also escaped.
Identity of the dead man was still unknown, despite a concerted investigation by railway officials. It is.believed that he boarded the train at Ottawa at 11 p.m. yesterday and was travelling to Haileybury. Provincial police identification expert A. G. Wart was on his way to the scene to aid in the investigation.
The car was the last one on a long CNR No. 1. which leaves Montreal and stops at Ottawa and Pembroke. Its run is to Vancouver.
The investigation is being conducted by Cpl. Larry Hartncr and Constable J. I. Doney and E. N. Milner of the Pembroke detachment of Provincial Police, Coroner Dr. J. C. Bradley of Pembroke was called. It is expected that an inquest will be held.
The body of the dead man was found, burned beyond recognition, in the rear vestibule of the coach. where he had apparently suffocated. It was here that many of the passengers had jammed the narrow aisle, blocking off escape fos those who later got out by the window which Mrs. Hoyt smashed.
The 13 passengers who escaped made their way into the sub-zero weather through the smashed window. Many of them had been sleeping. Several jumped while the train was still moving.
The fire started in the front section of the car. Reports indicated that it started in or near the compartment occupied by Faucault. It spread rapidly in billowing smoke throughout the car. arousing the terrified passengers.
The sleeping car was a complete mass of flames by the time the train came to a stop. The last car on the train, it was the Northern Ontario car of the Trans-Canada flyer. The car is normally detached from the CNR run at North Bay and picked up by the Ontario Northland Railway to proceed on its line to Haileybury. Kirkland Lake, Timmins and other points in that area.
Two Constables Saw The Blaze
Two members of the Pembroke Police. Constables Huntley Munro and R. M. Ritchey were among the first to notice the fire. While on patrol in the town, they noticed a reflection of fire in the sky and set out in its direction, They arrived at the CNR tracks on the southern outskirts of Pembroke and travelled by foot through the freezing weather up the tracks. They met a trainman racing out to find a phone to report the fire.
The call for help was put in from the nearby home of Provincial Constable Martin Brindle in Pembroke. The Pembroke Fire Department responded, taking its equipment to a CNR trestle crossing the Eganvllle Road. A second locomotive from the Pembroke Junction of the CNR, from where the train had just left, was dispatched. The blazing far was uncoupled and hauled to the trestle, where town firemen took more than three hours to extinguish the flames.
The train was about two miles from the junction when the fire was reported.
Dr. J. H. Joyner of Pembroke was called to attend injured passengers.
The train, carrying all the passengers except the dead man and Faucault, left about 5.15 three hours late.
Just as the belated train pulling out, another small fire, obviously caught by flames from the burned car. was spotted at the rear of the car which had been adjoining it. It was brought under quick control by crew members.
The blaze attracted large numbers of Pembroke residents. They watched from various windy vantage points around the scene.
CNR Issues Starement
MONTREAL (CP) Canadian National Railways officials gave the following account of the fire:
"Reports received from the crew of train No. 1 stated that after the train had left Pembroke junction at 2.15 a.m., Porter J. D. Bailey of Montreal discovered sleeping car Loulsburg on fire. This car of all steel construction was on the rear of the train.
"The porter stopped the train and awakened the passengers who were transferred to other cars on the train. All passengers in the sleeper Louisburg were safely accounted for with the execptlon of one unidentified male passenger who apparently died during the fire.
"The fire apparently started In one of the drawing rooms of the car and the occupant of that room was removed from the train by the Ontario Provlnlcal Police.
"Two passengers were injured. Mrs E. Gauthler of Valgagne. Ont., sustained a broken wrist and G. Zavalkoff of Montreal received a cut on his right foot.
"The train proceeded after a delay of three hours and 14 minutes to its schedule.
" Later on receipt of additional reports, CNR officials said Bailey discovered the fire In the drawing room of the pullman.
"An attempt was made to put out the fire with extinguishers, but the flames spread so rapidly that it was necessary to evacuate the passengers. It was necessary to break the windows to provide mesne of exit for some of them"
It was in making their way out that Mrs Gauthler and Mr Zavilkoff suffered their injuries.
Ottawa Citizen 22 January 1954
Train Crew Cleared by Jury
PEMBROKE (Staff) A coroner's jury last night cleared the crew of the Canadian National Railways' crack transcontinental flyer of any criminal negligence in the death of Ottawa doctor Hugh A. Collins.
But added to the verdict was a sharp five-barrelled "rider" calling for sweeping changes in CNR operations and safety precautions.
The jury found the-DVA physician met accidental death on Dec. 30 when the sleeping car "Louisburg" was ravaged by fire minutes after it left Pembroke station. They set the cause of death as suffocation and severe burns.
Evidence showed that the engine pulling the flaming sleeper was halted and then - without warning - started due to a mistake in interpreting signals. When the train was stopped for the second time it was beyond the reach of fire equipment from Pembroke.
The five-man jury recommended:
1. That the CNR provide more adequate training and instruction for crews to follow in the event of an emergency.
2. That the company insist that their train crewa have a better understanding of signals.
3. That some responsible member of the crew be specially designated to make sure all cars are cleared if such a move is needed,
4. That more adequate fire protection be provided in the trains.
5. That smoking be permitted only in the special smoking compartments.
The Jury took only 45 minutes to reach its verdict, although it required over eight hours to examine the 15 witnesses who testified. Dr. J. C. Bradley, Renfrew County coroner, presided.
Eighteen other passengers escaped the flaming sleeper by climbing to safety through doors and windows.
Evidence at the inquest revealed the startling fact that James Faucault, of Noranda. in whose compartment the fire started, had prophesied that the train might burn before reaching its destination.