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Towns of Cochrane, South Porcupine and Pottsville Have Been Wiped Off the Map


Reports Indicate That Death Toll Must Be Great—Thousands of Prospectors in the Woods in Path of the Flames

(Special Despatch to the Globe)

North Bay, July 11—A great disaster has befallen the north country as a result of the terrible heat and lack of rain. The whole country is burning up with bush fires everywhere. They have been in progress for over a week, and reached a climax to-day, licking up in their path everything before them.

Fanned by a terrible gale of wind, the flames swooped down on the villages and mining camps, and the loss of property will run into enormous figures, while the death toll must be great, as Porcupine district, where the fire is at its worst, contains thousands of prospectors, whose camps are scattered over a wide area of country heavily timbered.

From North Bay northward for three hundred miles and covering a wide section east and west flames are carrying on their work of destruction and death, and miners, prospectors and settlers are in a desperate plight if they even escape with their lives, for supplies, buildings and equipment are being wiped out of existence by a roaring wall of fire, which illuminates the sky for many miles.

Cochrane Levelled to Ground.

The town of Cochrane, at the junction of the T. & N. O. Railway and the Transcontinental, which was nearly wiped out the other day by fire, was leveled to the ground to-day, and the inhabitants are in a bad way for food and shelter, and are asking assistance from neighboring towns to the south.

South Porcupine and Pottsville have been wiped off the map. Golden City was visited by fire, but the greater part of the town has been saved thus far, only the outskirts being burned.

The south part of Tisdale has been swept clean, and other townships have suffered severely. All the mining camps from Dome to Whitney township have been burned. Hundreds of people, men, women, and children, were forced to rush into lakes and streams to seek refuge from the intense and blistering heat of the conflagration, an inferno of terror, with immense clouds of smoke darkening the sky, illuminated by sheets of flame as the fire leaped from tree to tree with frightful rapidity and a terrible roar.

Seven Known Dead.

Report has come in that F. Flynn, A. Yuille and W. J. Fletcher have been burned to death, while Billy Moore and three foreigners lost their lives by drowning near South Porcupine town while running from the flames.

Flames swept down on South Porcupine town and Pottsville to-day, and wiped out both towns so quickly that the inhabitants were driven into the lake, as no living thing could withstand the fierce heat and fire, which burned the very ground. Gasoline boats removed the refugees from both towns to Golden City across the lake, although the outskirts of that town were in flames and a desperate fight was being waged to save the place. The provision supply is only sufficient for several days at Golden City, and relief is being asked from outside points.

At the town of Cochrane everything is burned except the Transcontinental Railway office, the T. & N. O. agent’s house, Johnston’s pool room, the Imperial Bank, McKinnon’s office, the T. & N. O. Railway new passenger station and freight shed, all the rest being wiped out clean, including the Bank of Ottawa’s handsome brick block, J. T. McManus’ store, the Rothschild Block, Dempsey’s Hotel, King George Hotel, the Pelango Block, the postoffice, the Hudson’s Bay Co. store, the A. R. Springer store, and the C. H. Lloyd store. Only five buildings are left standing in this prosperous town of 2,500 inhabitants.

No Food in Cochrane

Cochrane’s inhabitants are without food, as nothing could be saved but the clothes on their backs. They are also without sleeping accommodations and are being housed in box cars, railway stations, Foley, Welch & Stewart’s contractors offices, the railway roundhouse and the freight shed. Appeals have been sent for assistance to New Liskeard, Haileybury, Cobalt, and North Bay, and the Mayors of these towns have called special meetings of the Councils to-night to arrange for succor.

All construction camps on the Ontario Government’s new Porcupine Railway from Golden City west were swept out of existence, and the men had to run for their lives.

Kelso in Grave Danger.

Keslo, which lost a number of buildings, as the result of bush fires on Sunday, is again threatened and in grave danger.

The Hollinger mining plant is supposed to be all right, as it was fire-swept some time ago, and is now surrounded by a large clearing and is comparatively safe.

The loss of life to prospectors and settlers must be great, and will not be known for days, as the survivors will find great difficulty in getting out, the trails being obliterated and the corduroy roads destroyed.

Superintendent Black and staff of the Ontario Government Railway will remain at their posts all night arranging and sending relief trains to the stricken towns.

The North Bay Town Council will send three hundred dollars’ worth of provisions to Cochrane on the first train.

Blankets, tents and other supplies are required, and are being collected to go forward on relief trains.

Cochrane is Gone.

Englehart, July 11—(Special.)—Advices from Cochrane confirm the report that the whole town has been wiped out, with the exception of six buildings. This afternoon at 3 o’clock a terrific bush fire swept up from the southwest, and the town was immediately in danger. At 4 o’clock the despatcher in the T. & N. O. station wired out that the fire had possession of the whole town. He continued: “it is getting very hot here, and the smoke is so thick that I can hardly see to send.” However, he was able to stick to his post, though the whole surroundings raged and stormed with flame.

There is no report of any accidents, and it is to be presumed that all were enabled to get out in time, though all the goods and chattels must have been lost.

Confusion and Suffering at Cochrane

Absolutely everything in the junction town has been swept clean, except a few places. Two thousand people are homeless and without any means of subsistence whatever. The flames played over the whole area of the town even to the other side of Commando Lake, the Catholic church not even escaping. What little the fugitives were able to salvage out of the conflagration was eaten up as the fire advanced. There is a scene of indescribable confusion, women and children running hither and tither, not knowing what will be destroyed next. The T. & N. O. officials put all the available box cars at the service of the families and they are now packed. Immediate steps will have to be taken to provide the town with food and clothing, and relief will be sent north to-night from Inglehart. In the meantime the contractors, Foley, Watch & Stewart, have provided all with super, but their supplies cannot meet the immediate demand for long. Happily, there have been no serious injuries, though a number of people have been slightly burned.

Between Matheson and Keslo.

Terrible has been the burning between Matheson and Kelso, the smoke at Matheson being so dense that lamps have had to be lighted all afternoon. A carload of settlers who have been burned out in the fires have already arrived in Matheson, and more are expected. Nothing but rain can relieve the situation.

Train Off the Track.

A train bearing Porcupine passengers running south on the T. & N. O. Railway, ran completely off the track at Swastika. Until late to-night four cars were still off the rails, and traffic was held up. The Porcupine train was cancelled, owing to the tremendous bush fires. The various Porcupine settlements have so far suffered no further loss.

The following telegrams were received by Mr. J. L. Englehart, Chairman of the T. & N. O. Railway Commission, in this city, last night from Mr. J. H. Black, General Superintendent of the railway at North Bay:

“Chief Engineer Clement wires from Porcupine. Fearful, destructive fires have swept the southern part of Tisdale and Whitney. South Porcupine and Pottsville have been wiped out. The outskirts of Golden City are burnt. All of our camps at Golden City and west are burnt, as far as we have been able to learn. All our men are safe. All of the mining camps from Dome to Whitney are reported burnt. F. Flynn, Alfred Youill and W. J. Fletcher are reported brunt, and three foreigners drowned at South Porcupine. Golden City station is safe. All bodies being taken care of at Golden City.”

“The entire town of Cochrane, with the exception of the Transcontinental offices, our agent’s house, Jenner’s store, Johnston’s pool room, Imperial Bank, McKinnon’s office and both our depots, is destroyed. People now housed in box and passenger cars, and we have opened our new station to take care of them.”