Major Fire in Craik, Saskatchewan,Craik
On Jan. 31, 2003 at 0315 hours, the Craik and District
Fire Department (CFD) received a 9-1-1 call reporting a
structure fire at the Craik Hotel. Responding to the fire
hall from his farm about three kilometres east of Craik,
Fire Chief Wade Hassett could see flames clearly visible
in the distance — the building was fully involved
and the fire had already vented through the roof.
Hassett immediately dispatched his units after arriving
at the hall, located one block north of the fire scene,
and requested a mutual aid response from the Davidson Fire
Department (DFD), located 27 kilometres north of Craik.
The CFD responded with its main engine, a 1050-Igpm ex-Calgary
pumper, a 500-Igpm (500-gal.) pumper, a 3,500-gal. tanker
and a utility truck. The first-in truck arrived at 0325
Meanwhile, pagers activated in Davidson at 0330 hrs, reading
“Craik Hotel fully involved send all equipment.”
The landmark two-storey Craik Hotel was built in 1903 using
balloon construction with no fire breaks or fire protection
CFD’s first-in pumper stretched a 2-1/2" supply
line from a hydrant located a block west of the fire —
the closest hydrant was directly in front of the hotel but
fire fighters were unable to gain access to it due to the
close proximity of the fire. Noting that the building was
fully involved, Hassett had the fire crews set up a defensive
attack and focus on covering the exposures. A search was
not able to be conducted due to the state of the building.
The nearest structure, Carleton Agencies, was located just
three feet from the west side of the hotel. Across the street,
the Royal Bank, Craik Hardware and the Craik Weekly News
buildings were suffering the effects of extreme radiant
heat as the vinyl siding on these buildings quickly melted.
Two half-ton trucks parked in front of the hotel also suffered
heat damage with all plastic items and the back windows
melting. Fire fighters set up lines to cool the exposures
and extinguish any flying brands using 1-1/2" lines
As the battle was being fought, the DFD was en route with
Engine 481 (a 625-Igpm [750-gal.] pumper), Tanker 481 (1,900-gal.
tank with a 10" quick dump valve and a porta-pond),
and Rescue 481 (a light rescue). Ten fire fighters responded
from Davidson to the alarm, while a crew was left in Davidson
to staff Engine 482, in case another call came in. Davidson
EMS also responded to the scene, on stand-by.
As E481 turned south on Highway 11, heading towards Craik,
fire fighters could see an orange glow in the night sky
but assumed it was the lights of Girvin, a village between
Craik and Davidson. As fire fighters closed in on Girvin,
they realized the glow was in fact the hotel fire, visible
from 17 kilometres away (remember, this is the prairies!).
At this point, DFD contacted Chief Hassett on the radio
to see if more mutual aid was needed to deal with this serious
outbreak. He reported that his fire fighters were containing
the fire but needed assistance in extinguishment. He also
said that his main engine was now out of service and his
500-Igpm pumper was the only one left to deal with this
huge blaze. (It was later determined that Craik’s
main pumper failed due to radiant heat melting an air line
on its pump. This engine also had its grill flashers melted
Members of the Craik RCMP Detach-ment and local SaskPower
employees, who had been called to the scene earlier, were
on scene by this time. Then DFD’s E481 arrived. The
time was 0401 hrs. This pumper caught the next closest hydrant,
located two blocks south of the fireground. Its crew laid
two 2-1/2" supply lines to the scene. Then a 2-1/2"
line was stretched to support Craik’s crew in protecting
the Carleton Agencies building. The CFD continued to protect
exposures south of the hotel.
The CFD tanker was staged in the rear of the hotel for
exposure protection there. Davidson’s T481 set up
its porta-tank, dumped its load and left to refill at a
hydrant two blocks west of the fire. Rescue 481 and EMS
staged on Main Street, one block west of the fireground.
The Davidson Fire Department was on scene, continuously
pumping until released at 0730 hrs. At 0700 hrs, the 2-1/2"
attack line was shut down as fire fighters had almost completely
depleted the water supply for the town. The town never completely
ran out of water but pressure dropped more and more as the
incident played out. A total of 250,000 gallons of water
were used by fire fighters to extinguish this blaze and
Twenty-eight fire fighters from the two departments were
active at this fire. Due to the amazing efforts of these
fire fighters, the downtown businesses nearby had only minor
damage. This fire had the potential to destroy much of the
downtown business area in the town of Craik. The CFD was
on scene until 1800 hrs. hosing down hot spots and assisting
RCMP and officials from the Fire Commissioner’s Office
with the initial investigation on the scene.
There were no injuries to fire fighters or the public during
this incident. The investigation initially determined the
last patrons of the hotel, in its bar, left about 30 minutes
before the fire began and no guest was registered in the
hotel that evening. The cause of the incident is undetermined,
according to Craik RCMP. Owners lost all of their stock
and equipment and it is uncertain at present whether they
will rebuild. A dollar loss is unavailable.
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