From The Scrapbook By Rev. Bill Randall

From The Scrapbook

York Mill Fire 1944 By Dr. Bill Randall

As told by: T. K. Craig

It was a warm summer’s day in June 1945, when a call came in that there was a fire at the woolen mill in York Mills.

At that time our fire department, located in my garage, consisted of an old 8 cylinder, Ford two ton truck which I bought in McAdam for $50. On this vehicle I had mounted an old wooden 500 gallon butter chum which I had obtained from my brother Bill, the manager of the creamery next door. This tank was attached to the truck, a pump was coupled to it and this was our fire truck. We did have some other equipment such as a couple of hand-operated pumps as well as several coats and a few pairs of boots.

As it happened Jack Coburn, who owned and operated a tow truck, was at the garage when the fire call came in. I took of in the fire truck and he followed in his tow truck. I had a hard time to get by a car on Oscar Little’s hill as I had no siren and he would not give me half the road. When we got close to the mill, we saw that it was almost all on fire and we knew there was nothing we could do to save it but we had to get across the bridge to try and save the stockroom which was full of wool and new yarn. Even though the truck had been recently overhauled it suddenly stopped and would not start again, so we hooked the tow truck to the fire truck and towed it over the bridge.

By this time some other volunteer firemen had arrived and we got the wajax pump set up on the road with the suction hose in the water above the dam: we certainly had lots of water to fight the blaze. After starting to fight the fire with just the one 11/2 inch fire hose we soon realized we needed a second hose line. In order to hook up the second time, the pump had to be shut off and I was afraid the old thing would not start again, but it did. As I said at the time “no mother attended a sick child any better than I attended that old pump that day”. Anyway we did manage to save the warehouse and all the wool and yarn.

We were very fortunate that nobody got hurt for there were a lot of spectators. At one point an oil drum

exploded and I am sure that it was blown 40 feet above the Mill’s 60 foot smoke stack. Had the drum been lying on its side when it exploded some of the spectators would have been killed and others hurt. The mill was rebuilt but after a number of years it again burnt that is another story.

Source: Rev. Bill Randall’s “From The Scrapbook

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