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Michael Hugh Crosby's family
Michael Hugh Crosby's family

Orillia Packet and Times November 28, 1958 Brechin

BRCHIN FIREMEN BATTLE ALL NIGHT

Seven persons are homeless and two main street stores destroyed as the result of a fire of unknown cause which last night drew dozens of persons to this village on Highway 12,  some twelve miles east of Orillia.

The fire which broke out shortly after 10 pm last night, first levelled an upholstering and furniture store operated by Joseph Catterall.  The flames then spread next door to a large house formerly housing Yule’s Bakery and completely gutted the interior as the stubborn flames ate their was through walls and roofs, defying every effort of the firemen.

Today the one store is completely levelled and the second is an empty shell with only the walls and roof intact.

Mr. and Mrs. Catterall were driven from their apartment above the upholstery store by the flames.  They had no difficulty making their escape.

Five persons occupied the Yule Bakery Building,  They were Gordon Yule and his wife and daughter who lived on the lower floor.  Two sisters, one of whom is bedridden, occupied the upper floor.  They are Annie and Barbara Graham.  All five persons were forced to leave the building when it became apparent that the flames were taking hold on the house despite the best efforts of the firemen.

CARRIED TO SAFETY

Volunteers carried the bedridden woman to safety at the home of a nearby neighbour.  All other persons in the two dwellings sought shelter with neighbours.

Fire departments from Brechin and Beaverton fought the flames with one or two volunteers from the Orillia Fire Department assisting.  The blaze was the first major fire for the newly formed Brechin Fire Department.  Complicating their efforts was the failure of the fire truck to start immediately, making it necessary for volunteers to push the truck out of the hall and along the street before the motor would catch.  Fortunately   the fire hall is located only about 20 yards from the scene of the blaze.

The first cold weather of the winter with temperature well below freezing and a fitful strong wind blowing made the task of the firemen more difficult and ice quickly formed on hoses and coats of the firemen.

For a time it was feared that the flames might spread to the Mara Township building separated from the Yule Bakery by only a narrow lane.  The Township Building was constructed  only a year ago and houses the Brechin Detachment of the Provincial Police as well as township offices. Provincial Police were prepared to remove all their records from the building at any moment.

The fire drew scores of persons from miles around and women from the Brechin Community Centre prepared coffee, tea and sandwiches to serve the chilled firemen and spectators.  The efforts received thanks from everyone present.

No estimate has as yet been made on the total loss in the blaze, but it is expected to exceed $10,000.

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Submission Committee:
Frances Laver
Fred Lamb
Mike Crosby
Rick McNamee


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