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Major Fire in Craik, Saskatchewan,Craik Hotel.

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 hrs.

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 systems.

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 off.)

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 protect exposures.
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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