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At approximately 1:45 in the afternoon, a small blaze starts on CPR Pier D, at the foot of Granville Street, and, within fifteen minutes, has grown into what will become the largest and most famous of Vancouver’s waterfront fires.
“I turned around to write a few words. Then back again,” writes William Short, of The Province. “The whole picture of the fire had changed. More than half of the pier was then in flames and white smoke started to come from a point where the Granville Street entrance should be.”
Despite vailant efforts by the Vancouver Fire Department, the flames are soon more than 100 feet high, and two firemen fighting the blaze are forced to leap into the harbour to save their own lives. It is only after the total destruction of the pier, and the CPR office located there -not to mention a VFD Hose Wagon that’s crushed by flaming debris, that the fire is finally put out, at 4:52pm.
“Cause of the blaze,” the paper reports, “was not immediately known.”
IMAGE: CPR Pier ‘D’, engulfed by flames, circa 1938. Image Courtesy of the Vancouver Archives