Mrs. Floyd runs from an East Trail fire, July 1917. (Trail Historical Society photo)

Trail Blazers: Fires raged in the summer of 1917

Weekly historical series in partnership with the Trail Museum and Archives

With wildfire season upon us, the photo for this week’s Trail Blazers feature is timely and particularly impactful.

The sepia-toned, ethereal-looking image captures an East Trail pioneer from 103 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 of 1917 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 which were brought down from Rossland,” explains Jesslyn Jarvis, collections coordinator for the Trail Museum and Archives.

“Citizens of Trail used garden hoses to douse flying sparks and prepared 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 within Trail.

“The Catholic Church and hall on Cedar Avenue, three homes, a shop warehouse, and the CPR warehouse were destroyed,” Jarvis said.

“The origin of the fire was never determined.”

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