|Birth: ||Feb. 4, 1913|
|Death: ||Dec. 12, 1942|
The most deadly indoor structural fire in what is now Canada swifly consumed the Knights of Columbus Leave Centre (Hostel) in St. John's, Newfoundland on 12 Dec 1942. At about 11 P.M. an arsonist set fire to the wooden building which was covered in imitation shingles, when the building was packed with military personel and their guests. The recreation centre was a firetrap: windows had been boarded over because of the ‘Blackout' regulations; doors opened inward or were locked or barred from the outside; exits were restricted; there was no emergency lighting system in place; the hall had been decorated with a lot of paper streamers. Within a short 10 minutes after the fire started, 99 people had been killed and 100 more were seriously injured. The main fire station was only 180 metres away, but the building and most of its occupants were doomed before the fire trucks could get there.
The regular weekly Saturday night "Uncle Tim's Barn Dance" had been going on that night—the event was even being broadcasted on the local radio station. There were about 500 people in the building that; some were at the dance and some were asleep upstairs in the servicemen's dormitories.
It was the most popular Newfoundland recreation spot for the many Newfoundlander, Canadian, American and British military servicemen, temporarily based in St. John's-it was their ‘home away from home.' Three years of work on the part of hospitable Newfoundlanders, interested in giving men of the navy, the army and the air force services a home away from home, was undone in the tragic 10 minutes it took the destructive fire to reduce the two-storey structure to ashes and charred ruins.
Canadian Prime Minister MacKenzie King's Message:--
Ottawa, Dec. 14. -- Prime Minister MACKENZIE KING Sunday night issued a statement expressing sympathy for those whose relatives had lost their lives or had been injured in the St. John's Nfld. fire Saturday.
The statement said:
"The prime minister is deeply grieved to learn of the loss of life occasioned by the fire at St. John's, Newfoundland. and wishes to express, through the press, his own sympathy and that of his colleagues for the bereaved families and those who have been injured."
On the site of this tragic blaze there is a granite memorial commemorating those who died in the fire.
From the Canadian Virtual War Memorial-
Rank: Petty Officer
Service Number: A/4173
Unit: Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve
Division: H.M.C.S. 'Avalon'
Son of Joseph and Isobel Abbott, of Thornbury, Ontario, Canada.
Commemorated on Page 54 of Canada's Second World War Book of Remembrance.
'GOD BE WITH YOU TILL WE MEET AGAIN'
Mount Pleasant Cemetery
Avalon Peninsula Census Division
Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Plot: Section C. Plot 27. Grave 1.
GPS (lat/lon): 47.54505, -52.73693
Created by: SJ Hearn
Record added: Mar 01, 2013
Find A Grave Memorial# 105979792