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Trail Blazers: Fires raged in the summer of 1917

Weekly historical series in partnership with the Trail Museum and Archives
Mrs. Floyd runs from an East Trail fire, July 1917. Photo: Trail Historical Society

With wildfires raging across the province, this photo from our Aug. 20, 2020 Trail Blazers feature remains timely and particularly impactful.

The sepia-toned, ethereal-looking image captures an East Trail pioneer from 106 years ago, identified only as “Mrs. Floyd.”

Her back is to the camera as she hurries along a dusty path to bury valuables and clothing in the vicinity of Fourth Avenue and Goepel Street in East Trail, as a fire rages on the upper eastside benches of the town in 1917.

After sparking to life on July 18, the disastrous fire started down the westside slope of Lookout Mountain towards the city as high winds blew hot embers across the Columbia River.

Firefighters set up hose lines, some brought down from Rossland, as Trail homesteaders used garden hoses to douse flying sparks while preparing to evacuate.

Luckily, Trail was spared from burning to the ground when the wind died down, allowing firefighters and volunteers time to cut down trees and put fireguards in place. The fire eventually burned itself out over several days.

Unfortunately, a few weeks later, on August 9, another fire broke out in Trail.

The Catholic church and hall on Cedar Avenue, three homes, a shop warehouse, and the CPR warehouse were destroyed.

The origin of the fire was never determined.

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Sheri Regnier

About the Author: Sheri Regnier

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