Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Whitehorse Star

THE SUPPORTING BEAMS COLLAPSE. Looking like the results of a fire-bombing raid, the last standing pillars of the Porter Creek School went down. A spectacular blaze, stretching from one side of the building to the other, made the northern sky red, while billows of smoke covered the valley. A large crowd of spectators gathered to watch the second school fire in four months. Damage at Porter Creek School totalled $400,000 which , added to the $500,000 fire at the Whitehorse Elementary School in October, almost reaches the million mark. Yukon Archives Photo

Holocaust At Porter Creek - School Fires Total $1 Million

The Whitehorse Star, Monday, February 13, 1967

By Whitehorse Star on February 13, 1967

The Whitehorse Star, Monday, February 13, 1967

Holocaust At Porter Creek -

School Fires Total $1 Million

A mass of smouldering rubble ws all that remained today of the Porter Creek Elementary School after a late night fire Sunday.

Cost of replacing the five classrooms, auditorium and office space was estimated at $400,000 today.

Arrangements are being made by School Superintendent Harry Thompson to accommodate the 140 pupils from Porter Creek Grades one to seven in classrooms at the Takhini and Whitehorse Elementary Schools, without resorting to shift classes.

No one knows how, or when, the fire started Sunday night, but a Porter Creek resident phoned the DPW fire station at 10:33 to report seeing a red glow at the school. By eleven p.m. the main portion o f the building was a total loss, and an hour later, nothing was left of the building which first opened in September, 1962.

There were four classrooms in the original school, with two more rooms being added in 1963.

DPW fire trucks answered the call, water tanker trucks converged on the scene, the foam fire truck came from the RCAF station, city firemen were on standby call. There is no fire hydrant at the school site because there is no running water in Porter Creek.

The school stood in an isolated part of the settlement, which is three miles along the Alaska Highway past the traffic circle at Whitehorse, and had been the scene of break-ins recently. No homes are very close to the school grounds.

RCMP, power company staff and other service and utility crews were at the scene to assist firemen.

Police report that Sunday night, the patrol car had been making its usual round checking at Porter Creek. The constable on duty found the door unlatched at the school, notified the principal and locked the building. It was shortly afterward the fire apparently broke out. The RCMP said today that they have found the school unlocked on several different occasions, but attribute this to the fact that the lock did not catch properly.

The crowd last night stood in silence as the flames climbed higher and the roof and walls fell in. No water was being poured into the blaze for the last hour as firemen left the fire to burn itself out.

Eerie red flow in the sky could be seen for miles around.

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