The fire of December 1st, 1922

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The fire of December 1st, 1922

December 1st, 1922, just before 9:00 pm, the fire that would eventually destroy Vieux-Terrebonne is beginning in the windows and doors factory belonging to Joseph Limoges. It is located at the end of Sainte-Marie Street and it extends into the river, just beside today’s City Hall.  The wooden building is rapidly taken over by the flames. The wind, blowing at over 90 km/h that evening, helps the spread of the fire. It moves from Sainte-Marie Street to Chapleau Street, just south of Saint-Pierre Street.  Coal stored in the house's basement helps to feed the conflagration.

The city hall is quickly set ablaze, while the City Council meeting has just been suspended by Mayor Eugene Labelle, who heard the first distress calls. While the mayor is working to assist the victims, his house and business are also engulfed by fire.

Firefighters from Montreal, Sainte-Thérèse, Sainte-Rose and Trois-Rivières are called in as reinforcements. They ensure that the fire does not spread beyond Saint-Pierre Street. Their approach leaves residents perplex, since the firefighters prefer dynamiting the burning houses, making them collapse onto themselves, rather than let the flames spread to neighbouring houses. The firefighters finally got the upper hand, and the fire was extinguished by the next afternoon. On the perimeter of the area consumed by the fire, two or three houses survived the disaster, including the "Maison du miracle." We will see it later.

A total of 150 families were left homeless, representing 668 victims. This is a third of the population of the city, which for the most part had no insurance. Terrebonne’s religious institutions and residents as well as the city of Terrebonne itself are helping by providing shelter and food to victims, but they are not alone. Informed of the fate of Terrebonne, the province's citizens send thousands of donations: money, food and building materials. These gifts, added to a generous contribution from the Government of Quebec, greatly contribute to the reconstruction of the city, most of which was rebuilt in the summer of 1923.


Audio content - The fire of December 1st, 1922


Question #5

WHAT ARE THE TWO MAIN ELEMENTS THAT INTERFERED WITH THE WORK OF THE FIREFIGHTERS ON LOCATION?

CHOICES
1) The heat melting the hoses and the lack of volunteer firefighters available.
2) The 90 km/h winds and the inability of fire trucks to reach the fire due to residents in the streets.
3) The unusable pumping station and the heat melting the hoses.
4) The lack of available volunteer firefighters and the 90 km/h winds.


Audio content - Question #5


Answer and Explanation - Question #5

3)  The unusable pumping station and the heat melting the hoses.

Although the winds accelerated the progression of the fire through the city, it is mainly the inoperability of the pumping station, called La Marine, that prevented the firefighters from doing their work. Normally used to power the water system of the city, it was unfortunately being repaired at the time and was impossible to operate.

At the time, the fire hoses were hung in a tower of the city hall. The heat from the fire was such that the fire hoses began to melt during their deployment. Shortly after, the fire attacked the pumping station, making it permanently unusable.

To reach the next point, follow the bike path up to the city hall.


Audio content - Answer and explanation - Question #5