Newspaper Photo of Fire
13 June 1997
13 June 1997
Tuesday, June 17, 1997
Village of Strome feels great loss as Feed Mill is lost to fire
Friday, June 13, definitely showed the Village of Strome its streak of bad luck. It will sure be missed by everyone who lives here. The Strome Feed Mill, also known as the Sterling Flour Mill, has been here for 85 years and will never be forgotten, especially to the seniors who in the early years hauled wheat there to be ground into flour for their winter supply. People watched in amazement, and much sadness, as the flames peaked and the building slowly turned into rubble and ashes.
Owner Jumps for his life
Friday the 13th hit with a vengeance last week with the destruction by fire of the Strome Feed Mill, which was built along Highway 13 in 1911/1912 and originally used as a flour mill, one of the first in Alberta.
Owner Brian Steiger was forced to jump from the roof of the building to save his life, landing in Daysland Health Centre to convalesce from an injured back and smoke inhalation.
The call came in at 8:40 am, said assistant fire chief Lloyd Robbins. Robbins, who works at the Alberta Wheat Pool elevator just to the north of the feed mill, noticed the smoke coming out of the roof at about 8:30 am.
By the time he had run to the fire hall, got suited up and over to the mill, "the fire was already raging from the top of the building to the driveway."
Steiger was working on a gear mechanism at the top of the building when he looked down and saw the flames below him. He jumped from one roof down to a lower roof, then attempted to jump onto the ground but tripped over a power line. Witnesses at first believed he had tried to jump onto the power pole.
Steiger fell onto the ground after tripping on the power line, hurting his back.
The 86-year-old building went fast, said Robbins, as it was composed of old lumber and brick. In the old warehouse behind the mill, up to 40 fiberglass resin barrels started exploding as firefighters from Strome, Daysland and Killam battled the blaze.
"The tops were flying," said one firefighter, stating they had to dodge them as they worked. "We found the lids on the other side of the tracks."
Firefighters poured water on the chemical shed beside the Wheat Pool and on the custom blending facility to keep them from getting hot. The windy day made sparks fly, while lids exploded and flew in all directions, making firefighters duck as they worked.
In less than two hours, the wooden structure, used in the past few years as a cattle feed mill, servicing the County of Flagstaff, was gone. Fires continued throughout the day, and the building continued to do a slow burn all weekend.
Strome firefighters said they greatly appreciated the use of Killam's water monitor, which can be set up to spray the fire without the firefighters needing to get too close to the flames.
Power to the Wheat Pool elevator was also shut off for about four hours, with TransAlta employees working on fixing the transformer at the same time as the firefighters kept the blaze under control.
Robbins said a truck parked inside the driveway of the mill is suspected as a possible cause.
However, Killam-Forestburg RCMP say the fire is of unknown origin.