The Railways of Ottawa

Finding No. 21   Railway Structures Destroyed (Mainly) by Fire

Ottawa City Passenger Railway New Edinburgh Stables
Partially Destroyed by Lightning and Subsequent Fire 11 August 1891.

Ottawa Journal 12 August 1891

Struck by Lightning
Both Street Railways Demoralized by the Storm
The C.P. Company's Stables Fired and the Service Stopped last Night.

Lightning struck the Ottawa street railway brick stables yesterday afternoon setting them on fire and almost causing their destruction.
About a quarter past three as Mr. Wm. Buchanan, the company's clerk, was standing in front of the office door on Ottawa street, he saw an almost blinding flash of zigzag lightning pass apparently over the building, and at the same moment there was a deafening crash of thunder. For a moment he was stunned. When he entered the office Mr. Riobert Ingram, the bookkeeper, asked him to go out in the back and see if any glass was brokem, as he thought he heard a sound like it.
Struck by a Bolt of Lightning.
Mr. Buchanan had hardly gone out, when Mr. Sedling from McClymoat's mill opposite ran in and told him that the stables in the rear of the office were on fire. He had seen the bolt strike. It went through a ventilating cupola on the end nearest Stanley Avenue, and scarcely a minute later flames had broken out at the other end of the building facing John Street and some 200 feet away. The lightning had apparently run along the floor of the long loft along the scattered hay.
The alarm was promptly run from box 61 and later from No. 123 at No. 6 fire station and the reel was promptly on the spot and had a stream playing on the John Street end of the loft, whence volumes of very dense, grey brown smoke from the burning hay was issuing. At the time the bolt struck three stableman were in the stable on the ground floor near Stanley avenue. They did not know... They were told a minute later that the building was on fire. There were also several present who had gone in for shelter out of the rain.
Getting out the horses.
Immediately a rush was made to get out the horses. Of the 54 horses owned by the company, 35 were in the stable. The first few were got out easily enough, but as the fire increased, the smoke came rolling down through the hay holes from the loft and the remaining animals became excited. The halters were then hastily cut and they were driven out onto the street. One obstinately remained, but a bag being placed over its head, it was eventually got out. Within three minutes after the alarm every horse was out. They were placed for the time being in McCrymond's mill apposite [sic] the office. There was about five tons of hay in the loft all together and this was spread over the whole surface,, the more easily to fire the various rack.
Fighting the fire.
The fire ran through this both ways and a few minutes after the bolt struck flames were breaking out in all parts of the loft. Fortunately the roof was tinned and this kept in the flames considerably.
No. 5 reel was the second to arrive and soon played a stream from Stanley Avenue. No. 3 followed quickly afterwards and began to play from the stable yard on the south side of the building. When the central hose arrived it took up a position in a lane running from John Street along the north side of the building. After about half an hour's hard work it was seen that the John street end was under control, but the flames increasing at the Stanley avenue end Chief Young sent for the big hose. This arrived at five minutes past four and had not been playing its heavy stream ten minutes before all danger was over. A few minutes previously the roof fell in in several places.
Gallantly done.
By a quarter to five the last vestige of fire had been extinguished. The brigade had fought the flames bravely. Chief Young exhibited the best judgment in his disposition of the streams. The firemen stood their ground well in the midst of the suffocating smoke. The fire did not get below the loft. The ground floor, beyond being flooded with water, was not damaged.
The stable at the John St. end was built this spring. On the ground floor were stored all the company's sleighs. These had been run out on to the street a few minutes after the alarm was run. If the fire had occurred a little later the loss of hay would have been much greater as the company was just beginning to lay in the winter's supply. There were two large oat bins in the loft, but all the oats were at McKay's Mill.
Notwithstanding the heavy rain there were a large number of spectators present who had been drawn from the city, by the excessive clouds of dense smoke that trailed in a southerly direction over the city.
Both President Keefer and Secretary Fraser were absent at the time of the fire, the latter being on his holidays.
The building had a peaked roof and the three large ventilators at the top gave a strong draft through the building and greatly stimulated the flames.
The building is fully insured.
The Service Stopped.
The cars did not run at night, the men being employed in cleaning up the stables so as to put the horses back. This was done and the horses all housed by 10 o'clock. The cars were running again this morning. Before stopping the company brought all picnicers [sic] at Rockcliffe up to the city.

Updated 20 October 2021

Top     Home   Findings   Circle