ExploreNorth, your resource center for exploring the circumpolar North

Return to the Home Page The ExploreNorth Blog About ExploreNorth Contact ExploreNorth

Search ExploreNorth






newspapers.com













Three members of Beckley family die in Whitehorse fire, 1952



Highlights of History from The Whitehorse Star

The Whitehorse Pioneer Cemetery


    Although the primary article that follows spells the family's name Buckley, it was actually Beckley, as shown in the Card of Thanks that follows it.


The Whitehorse Star - Friday, November 21, 1952


, 1952.

    A fire which completely gutted a Whitehorse home and burned a mother and her child to death has claimed its third victim.

    Mrs. Elizabeth Buckley and her three-year-old son Richard were trapped in their blazing home early Sunday morning and burned to death before firemen could reach them.

    Firemen received the alarm at 5:25 a.m. Sunday morning. Flames and smoke could be seen from the downtown area, a mile from the fire and when the fire engines arrived at the scene the house was a mass of flames.

    Norman Charles Buckley awakened to find the house on fire. He is reported to have pulled his brother George from the flames and attempted to go back for his wife and child, but the flames drove him back. Norman and his brother were rushed to the General Hospital but his brother George died the following day from severe burns. Norman Buckley is still confined to the hospital, painfully burned.

    According to the fire department report, the house, situated near the White Pass roundhouse, was under construction. No windows were in the frames, cardboard covered the window casings. The interior was partially lathed with silver-foil insulation tacked to the room partitions. A small oil heater was located in the north-west corner of the front room and a cook-stove was in the centre of the front portion of the building. The child's crib was approximately four feet from the heater; the mother slept between the front wall and the child's crib.

    The lack of windows is believed to have fanned the flames which completely gutted the interior. Neither chairs, tables or any furniture survived the fire. Even the iron beds were twisted by the heat.

    Twenty minutes after their arrival, firemen were able to enter the building and remove the two bodies of the mother and her child. Firemen stated that if they had been called earlier, they might have saved the three victims. The alarm was turned in by Dr. Kay McDonald, neighbor to Buckley's. Town and Army Fire Departments fought the blaze.



The Whitehorse Star - Friday, November 28, 1952

Card of Thanks from Norman Charles Beckley, 1952.