The Railways of Ottawa

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

Ottawa Electric Railway Rockcliffe Car Barns Burned 23 June 1937

Ottawa Citizen 23 June 1937

$60,000 loss at OER barn at Rockcliffe
Two of three sections are burned and old cars are destroyed.
Two of three sections of the Ottawa Electric Railway car barn in Rockcliffe were gutted by a spectacular fire this forenoon, the loss including contents being estimated by Major F.D. Burpee, vice-president and general manager of the company at approximately $60,000.  The loss is fully covered by insurance.
Forty old type streetcars, the small type double enders stored in the barn, were destroyed with other equipment.
The barn was valued at $100,000 and was built around 30 years ago.
Believed by Major Burpee to have been caused by a cigarette stub or a small fire lighted by tramps who have often been chased out of the barn, the fire broke out in the centre section.  Because of the height of the building, about 20 feet, and the roomy space encouraging draft, the flames spread quickly.  The roof is of tar and gravel and the fire leaping through the centre roof soon resulted in billowing clouds of black smoke that could be seen from remote sections of the city.
The old cars in this section quickly fell prey to the flames but two of them had been removed with the aid of one of the large modern cars a short time before.  The three sections are separated by brick walls and the exterior of the structure itself is brick.  The flames, however, ate into the centre section roof and across and down into the south section.  It was soon evident that the latter section could not be saved so firemen concentrated on the north side, trying to save part of the centre section and the north section.
However, both south and centre sections were gutted and the east end of the north section also was damaged.
The side and rear outer walls as well as the inner walls had no windows making fighting of the fire difficult.
Several of the cars destroyed were the old fashioned open-sided type so popular years ago for the trips to Britannia and Rockcliffe Park.  The other small closed types mainly were used as work cars, although the equipment was stored in the barn for emergency transportation purposes.  The cars standing on eight track sections were destroyed.

Updated 24 October 2021

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