The Heritage Corner, Springhill Record

May 30th, 2012

Stonehouse Fire

Aug. 24, 1933Fire Causes Heavy Damage; Stonehouse Farm and Two Stables Completely Destroyed

     The sympathy of the entire district goes out to Frank Stonehouse, Athol Road, whose home, barns and other outbuildings are today a mass of charred ruins following the disastrous blaze which broke out in one of the lower barns shortly before 4 o’clock Wednesday afternoon.  Within an hour and a half his splendid farm buildings were devoured one by one by the spectacular blaze which finally engulfed the home, completely wiping out some twenty thousand dollars worth of property, while sympathetic friends rescued the contents of the home and did everything possible to check the rapid advance of the flames which licked their way onward with only the feeble efforts of the Chemical of the Springhill Fire Department putting up what opposition it could.  Even this effort suffered from lack of water to refill the chemical.  The Department was finally driven back by the terrific heat and forced to watch the buildings fall when a suitable water supply would have easily saved the home.  It was a bitter pill for the boys to swallow after the wonderful fight the had put up the night before at the Boss Livery Stable fire where the supply of water was all that could be desired and their efforts were well rewarded.

Before it was discovered the fire had gained great headway in one of the lower barns.  Railway men at the local station stated that the noticed the blaze and called the Stonehouse home to find out where the fire was.  Mrs. Stonehouse, who was at home, was unaware that the barn was burning.  The first barn was rapidly consumed and the flames spread to the other three, engulfing the blacksmith’s shop, the slaughterhouse, the garage, the shed attached to the house and finally the home itself.  It was heartbreaking to watch this well equipped farm and the labor of many years being wiped off the map is so short a space.  Neighbours and friends gave every assistance clearing the house as the flames licked their way towards the house.  When the furniture and other articles were safely removed, friends salvaged as much as possible of the building itself, removing the doors, windows, casings and other things that they salvaged in the brief space of time at their disposal.  It was well they were engaged in this task that a sharp explosion took place upstairs where a number of the firemen and others were working.  The force of the explosion staggered firemen Cunningham and Crawford, both of whom suffered from burns.  Cunningham had his eyebrows and lashes practically burned off and his trousers caught fire, While Frank Crawford had holes burned in his sock and when we last saw him he had his feet in a pail of water seeking relief from his burns.  The other boys received minor burns and a bad scare as they thought the entire roof was coming in on their heads.  They lost no time in escaping from the building.  It was thought the explosion was caused by a congestion of the smoke in the upper story.

Hundreds of people from the town and surrounding country gathered quickly at the scene as the dense clouds of smoke rose indicating the blaze was one of unusual intensity.  There was $5000 insurance.

Tuesday evening, election night, will long be remembered as the night the Boss-Coulter fire and also the brilliant fire-fighting given by the local Fire Department.  It was one of the best efforts of the Department in recent years, as they succeeded in confining the blaze to the Merve Boss stable and Coulter’s stable, while three other building almost touching the two destroyed were only slightly damaged.

The fire is said to have broken out in the hay stored on the second floor of the Boss farm and the flames spread rapidly as the building within a few minutes was a roaring inferno.  As the Boss stable practically touched the Coulter barn it was utterly impossible for the firefighters to save the latter property and they bent every effort to prevent the flames from engulfing the Simpson building. The Lowther home and the Town machine shed, all three of which were within a few feet of the blazing structures.  As the danger of the situation became apparent a call went out for the Company’s Fire Department, which arrived on the scene quickly and their joint efforts were soon rewarded.  It was a great piece of work on the part of both Brigades and citizens were loud in their praise of the efforts of the firemen.

Just as they were getting the fire under control the firemen and the spectators were startled to hear the alarm again blowing for another blaze on Monument Hill, which, turned out to be the Nazarene Church.  Flying embers had been carried nearly a quarter mile and the shingles of the church were burning as a passing citizen saw the blaze and sounded the alarm.  The chemical was quickly dispatched to the scene and had the fire under control in a few minutes, without much damage being done.

This was the third fire within two and a half hours, the first having taken place at the home of Jack Hollis, Miller Corner, shortly after nine the same evening, where considerable damage was done to the roof of the house.  The firemen had just returned from this blaze when at 11:45 the alarm went for Boss’s stable, the Nazarene Church alarm coming in shortly afterwards.

The loss of the Boss building amounted to roughly $2000 with $1000 insurance.  The morning of the fire Mr. Boss had cancelled an additional $500 insurance which he had been carrying.  Coulter’s loss was about $1000 with no insurance.  Lowther’s property was covered as was Jack Hollis, Miller Corner.