DENSE SMOKE HAMPERS FIREMEN AT CANADIAN CATHEDRAL BLAZE
Alarm Turned in by Boy Who Did Not Wait for Apparatus —Department Believed Alarm Was False—Memorial Windows of Church Saved
ST. ALBANS’S CAHEDRAL unfinished diocesan center at Howland and Barton Ave., Toronto, Canada. occuping a city square, was gutted by fire originating in the basement. The cause is attributed to defective wiring. The erection of the Chapel, or the first half of the church, was begun in 1887 and the foundation of the addition in 1912. It was built of grey stone along Gothic design with slate roof supported by oak arches; the interior in oak. Due to good work of the fireman, the war memorials and several of the memorial windows and roof were saved.
The fire was discovered by a boy riding a bicycle on Howland Ave. He pulled a box two blocks from the church, and he rode off. When the 1st alarm assignment under District Chief Fox arrived they found no fire and thought the alarm false. As Engine 23 was returning smoke was seen issuing from the church on the north side. One line was placed to the entrance of the church but owing to the dense clouds of smoke they were unable to enter. A second alarm brought Chief Russell, Dept. Chief Duncan McLean, Dept. Chief Geo. Sinclair, Chief Simpson of the Fire Alarm Telegraph, Dr. Hill the Dept. Surgeon and four 1,000gallon American-La France triple combination pumpers, two 800-gallon American-La France Triple combination pumpers and two 1,000-gallon Gotfredson triple combination trucks, two 85-foot La France Aerials, two La France city service trucks, one gas oil car, and the White emergency car from the gas company. Dist. Chiefs Corbett and See also responded.
When the second alarm assignment arrived dense clouds of smoke were issuing from all over the building. Firemen tried to enter the building but owing to smoke and heat this was imposible. Dept. Chief McLean ordered the laddermen to open windows on the north side in order to ventilate. Chief Russell had the men play five streams through the windows on the north side, two streams on the east and four streams on the south side. As the smoke thinned down the men were able to gain admittance into the church from the west and north side. Three streams were used in the basement and several in the church. The fire was burning fiercely in the crypt. Dist. Chief See and Captain Johnston were leading their men through the church when the floor caved in and they plunged twenty-five feet into the basement beside the boilers in four feet of water. Through the quick work of Dept. Chief McLean and Dept. Chief Sinclair, the two injured men were rescued from the crypt and removed to their homes in the police ambulance. Fifteen hose stream were used most of the fire was confined to the basement. At 6 p.m. the hose streams were reduced to four and the second alarm companies returned to their quarters. At 10:30 p.m. the fire was struck out, after a hard six-hour battle. The water pressure was excellent during the fire. A large crowd of spectators gathered and were held back by the police.