Major Fire in Summerside, 1895

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Submitted by Christine Gorman

From the Daily Examiner, March 30, 1895.


(By telephone from special correspondent...)

At twenty minutes past four this morning the fire bell rang out an alarm that roused the people of Summerside from their beds. Excitement was intense when it was discovered that the Journal office was burning fiercely and that the wind blowing from the north-east was carrying the flames across the street and placing the buildings opposite in great danger. Before the arrival of the fire engine, the Journal building was hopelessly doomed, and the efforts of the firemen were directed towards saving the adjoining and opposite buildings. In spite of their hard work, however, the wooden building adjoining the Journal office, owned by the Tryon Woolen Co., and occupied by J. A .Sharp as a store-house and agricultural implement show room, was very soon destroyed. Then the flames crossed the street and laid hold of the grocery store of Capt. Dan McKinnon. By this time, the engines were throwing half a dozen streams into the blaze, but so furious was the fire that the water hardly checked its headway. The heat at this time was so great that it was feared the buildings on the opposite side of Water Street would catch fire. Following McKinnon's store, the Hotel McIntyre buildings, occupied by J.. A. Gourlie, Geo. Muttart, Dr. McIntyre and Frank Perry, was the next to suffer. This building was consumed but fortunately the spread of the fire was here stopped. By this time, R. C. McLeod's building on the other side of the Journal office had caught, and shortly after the Bank of Nova Scotia in which was also the law office of Mr. J. E. Wyatt, took fire. Both of these buildings were entirely consumed. At this time, about 8 o'clock, the fire was got under control.

The frame of the Bank of Nova Scotia –the only brick building in the lot– is all that is standing amidst the ruins of the fire. The rapid spread of the fire was fearful, and to make things worse, the steam fire engine broke down and for half an hour was out of the fight. Another cause of obstruction was the interference of outsiders with the firemen. There were altogether too many captains giving orders and getting in the way of the men who might have done much more effective work if left alone.

Mr W. A. Brennan of the Journal estimates his loss of building and plant at $20,000; insurance, $8,500.
Mr. J. A. Gourlie lost $800 worth of stock, covered by insurance; loss on building, $2,000; insured for $1,000. He has moved into the space previously occupied by W. A. Stewart, belonging to the Crabbe estate.
Geo. Muttart loss on building is estimated at $2,000; no insurance.
Daniel McKinnon's store and building, belonging to the Schurman estate; estimated loss, $2000; insurance for $600.
The bank building valued at $6000; insured for $4000.
Warehouse owned by the Tryon Woolen Co, insured for $700.

Policeman Peters had his foot badly hurt while working on the roof of the McKinnon building.
William Cushing jumped for safety from the flames from the window of his residence over C. B. Saunders' vendor shop, and was badly shaken up. C. B. Saunders had a lot of goods destroyed while trying to save them from the fire.
The fire is supposed to have started in the front office of the Journal building from rats igniting matches.

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