The Railways of Ottawa

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

Ottawa Electric Railway Car Barns at Rockcliffe burned 18 September 1932.

Ottawa Journal 19 September 1932

Loss is $30,000 as O.E.R. barn the scene of fire.
Many streetcars, mostly old stock are destroyed at Rockcliffe.
The north section of the Rockcliffe street car barn, together with a large amount of rolling stock of Ottawa Electric Railway Company was destroyed in a spectacular blaze which kept firemen from six city stations busy for an hour and a half yesterday afternoon.
Total damage is estimated at approximately $30,000 although difficulty was experienced in placing an estimate in the streetcars destroyed owing to the depreciation in recent years.
Lost in the blaze were six of the latest type street cars (the 800) valued at $12,000 each when new; one large green car of the same value, six pilot cars, several of the old type open passenger cars and other obsolete rolling stock.
Damage etc.
The fire, which was one of the most spectacular seen in Ottawa for some time past, was first noticed by a passerby who turned in an alarm at No. 6 Fire Hall on Sussex Street.  Four stations responded to the alarm at 4.01 p.m. but at 4.12 o'clock Fire Chief S.B. Blackler sent for assistance and firemen from Stations 2 and 8 were despatched.
When firemen reached the barns the fire had secured a good hold and flames were shooting through the roof while thick black clouds of smoke were carried by a northerly wind over Rideau Hall grounds.
Firemen found considerable difficulty in that there were no hydrants nearby and lines of hose had to be laid from Rideau Gate at the corner of Sussex Street and from Maple Lane to the scene of the fire, distances of more than a quarter of a mile.
The north section of the barn was blazing furiously when firemen reached the scene and Chief Blackler and his men concentrated their efforts on saving the other two portions of the barn which contained streetcars of a more valuable nature.
Tackling the fire with three lines of hose, firemen soon had it under control and prevented it spreading to the interior of the centre portion although a section of roof was destroyed.  As soon as tons of water were poured into the building dark heavy clouds of smoke came pouring out and could be seen for miles around.
Within a short space of time almost 3,000 people had congregated around Rockcliffe Park.  At times flames shot high into the air, while sparks flew in all directions as steel framework fell with a clattering noise.
Within an hour there was nothing left of the northerly section of the barn but smoldering ruins.
It was largely due to the efficient work of the firemen that the centre portion of the building was saved.  In this building were six "800" cars, ten "jiggers" and other rolling stock.
A brick wall extending from the floor to the wooden roof also proved a great asset in keeping the flames back although fire on the roof spread to the centre section and was quickly quelled by a line of firemen.
Firemen were kept on guard in this section to keep the flames from getting a hold and their efforts being successful in preventing a much more serious fire with considerably greater loss.
At 5.30 the return was rung.  Firemen were present from stations 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8 while approximately 5,400 feet of hose was used.
No cause could be found etc.

Updated 24 October 2021

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