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1929 Rossland Fire - Rossland, BC
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member BK-Hunters
N 49° 04.639 W 117° 47.962
11U E 441623 N 5436358
Quick Description: The 1929 fire was the third and last major fire that Rossland experienced in the former part of the twentieth century.
Location: British Columbia, Canada
Date Posted: 1/25/2014 4:39:26 PM
Waymark Code: WMK0KB
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member saopaulo1
Views: 0

Long Description:
Having experienced devastating fires in 1902, 1927 and 1929, Rossland finally woke up to the fact that changes were due.

All three fires destroyed a major portion of the central business district, with immediate rebuilding taking place on each occasion. The 1927 fire destroyed much of the south side of Columbia Avenue while the 1929 fire took out an entire block of the opposite side of Columbia, plus the prestigious Rossland Club on the south side.

Each fire was able to consume what it did as a result of either inadequate firefighting equipment and/or an inadequate water supply. The 1927 fire occurred in January during a cold snap which froze the water mains. The 1929 fire occurred on March 1st. after a dry fall which left the town's reservoir almost empty. Water pumps from surrounding mines were pressed into service, but the pressure was inadequate to be effective. Buildings were dynamited in an attempt to halt the fire, to little avail.

After the 1929 fire the town felt that enough was enough and set about implementing necessary changes to ensure that the episode would not be repeated. Necessary firefighting equipment was purchased, including a White fire truck. The fire department was reorganized and a city wide alarm system was installed.

The two buildings left standing on the devastated block were the Bank of Montreal building on the west end and the Post Office, badly damaged, on the east end of the block. It was evident that their construction materials, brick and stone, had saved them. The obvious result was that replacement buildings were also made of brick and stone, all of which remain today.

Included are pre 1929 photos, one of which shows the Post Office with its third floor and its beautiful Victorian Mansard roof intact. It was so badly damaged that the remains of the third floor were removed. Rebuilt, it remains a two storey building today.

...The 1927 fire occurred on the bitterly cold night of January 21, in the middle of the southern side of the block of Columbia Avenue between Washington Street and Queen Street. While the local fire brigade was reported to have arrived on the scene quickly, they immediately ran into a big problem: the water lines were frozen. Without any way to put the fire out, all the firemen could do was watch from the side lines as the fire eventually burned itself out. In the end, most of that block was destroyed...

...As bad luck would have it, almost exactly two years later, March 1, 1929, the opposite block of Columbia Avenue, book-ended by the Bank of Montreal building and the post office, also burned to the ground, leaving only those two buildings intact. Good thinking on the part of the designers, as both were constructed from stone and brick. This fire was discovered at about 11:30 PM by someone at the old city hall. The cause is still unknown, but it started at the back of the centre of the block.

Once again, fire crews were on the scene quickly, but once again they had a big problem. A particularly dry fall had left the newly built 25 million gallon reservoir with little water in it, so plan B was instigated: water pumps from the mines were utilized, but this was not ideal as the water pressure wasn’t enough to make much of a difference. Once again, firemen and citizens stood futilely by as the block burned to smouldering rubble. It was also a particularly windy night, and the fire managed to jump over Columbia Avenue and burned down the prestigious Rossland Club at the corner of Queen Street and LeRoi Avenue...
From The Rossland Telegraph

Vintage photos are courtesy of The Rossland Telegraph and the Rossland Museum Arvhives.

Coordinates given are for the approximate location of the start of the fire.

Type of Structure: Public building

Construction Date: 1/1/1901

Fire Date: 3/1/1929

Structure status: Still standing building

Cause of Fire:

Documentation of the fire: [Web Link]

Other: Not listed

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