PARLIAMENT BUILDING IN OTTAWA SWEPT BY FIRE
The Parliament Building in Ottawa, Canada, was swept by fire on the night of February 3. The fire was first seen in the reading room of the House of Commons and followed an explosion and shortly afterwards, it is stated, other explosions were heard. The cause of the fire has not yet been determined or announced. Reports state that it was believed by some that a gas bomb or an infernal machine was the cause. Two women, guests of the wife of Speaker Sevigny, were found unconscious by firemen and died later. At least two men lost their lives, it is stated in reports, and other arc reported missing. ‘1 he Ottawa fire department, of which J. VV. Graham is chief, made a valiant fight against the flames. Mayor Martin, of Montreal, who is a member of parliament, got into communication with Chief Tremblay, of the Montreal Fire Brigade. As a special train bearing fire apparatus and firemen was leaving that city to go to Ottawa’s aid word was received that they were not needed. The fire occurred whde the House of Commons was meeting and members of parliament and others in the building had difficulty in escaping. Many peopie who could not escape by way of the smoke filled halls were rescued by firemen with ladders and others leaped into life nets held by firemen. A number of firemen and policemen were covered with debris when part of the structure collapsed. Those injured were hurried to hospitals. In the reading room, where the fire was first seen, were many loose papers and the fire spread with such great rapidity, due to the large amount of interior woodwork, dried and seasoned by the years, and furnishings and other material that fed the flames, that the building was already doomed when the fire department arrived. At 1.30 A. M. the tall central spire fell. At 3 A. M. when the fire was under control the flames had swept through the House of Commons and Senate wings but the firemen had succeeded in saving the wing occupied by the valuable parliament library. The books had already been removed to places of safety by firemen and soldiers. The building, which cost more than $6,000,000 included a central building with two side wings, in all 470 feet in length, with a tower 220 feet high and the library building in the rear. The building, of sandstone, was erected in 1859-1860 and covers an area of four acres.
In newspaper despatches from Ottawa, Chief Graham is quoted as saying, in discussing the fire: “I distinctly heard five explosions the like of which 1 never heard before at any fire. The explosions were not even like that of gunpowder, They were like the explosions of shell.”