Yesterday I posted this photo of the 1971 Smiths Falls fire where Mississippi Mills and Carleton Place firemen were called to help fight it. Then I got this email…..
My dad, Ed, was a volunteer firefighter for as long as I could remember. He was at the massive fire in Smiths Falls. He is one of the 2 men atop the building. We had this hanging in out TV room growing up and was always amazed how a fire that big could happen.
Glad to share with you and the group.
Ed joined BBDNE in 1972 and started with Ocean Wave in 1972 and retired in 1991. He believes he is the person on the left but not sure. However he was on that roof during the fire.
1975-–Embers are still smoldering in an aftermath of a $650000 fire which gutted a three -storey brick building on Beckwith street Tuesday evening leaving 25 residents without a home. Firemen from eight area departments from as far away as Westport and Kemptville battled the blaze whipped by a 20 mph wind and exploding paint for three hours before bringing it under control about 8:30 pm. It was another three houn before firemen were able to leave for home.
The fire broke out again early this morning when an oil tank located on the third floor caught fire. Flames shot 60 feet in the air at this stage before the fire was brought under control a second time. Twelve apartments and three stores Vandusen Jewellers Reward Shoe Store and Myrtle’s Paint Store were gutted two other nearby stores sustained water and smoke damage.
Police managed to evacuate all residents when the fire broke out about 5:30 pm. No injuries were reported but several firemen sustained smoke inhalation while battling the blaze. Firefighters were called upon several times during the height of the fire to douse small blazes on surrounding buildings caused by flying sparks.
The fire apparently broke out in the Reward Shoe Store and then spread to a neighboring decorating store where several hundred gallons of paint turned the building into a blazing inferno. Walker’s Store located on the north side of the burning building sustained some fire damage on the second floor and heavy smoke damage in excess of $200000 to the south Marianne’s dress store also reported heavy smoke damage.
The gutted building owned by William Justus of Kingston was valued at $500000 It was insured None of the apartment dwellers carried insurance. The fire was reminiscent of the November 1971 blaze which gutted five stores a block south of the fire area leaving 35 people homeless at the time and causing over $1 million damage.
Firemen combating last night’s blaze were fortunate in having warmer temeratures than in 1971 when below freezing temperatures hampered the fire fighting operations. As in 1971 the arrival of the aerial ladder from Almonte a community of less than 5000 people turned the tide for the firefighters this time. After it arrived at 7:30 pm Tuesday firemen were able to contain the blaze to the one building.