The Way it Was

Courtesy of the Kimberley Heritage Museum archives

February 26, 1959

$200,000 Fernie Arena Razed; Hockey Player Perishes In Blaze

A well-known Fernie athlete, 19 year-old Dominic Ferrarelli, died in a flash fire which destroyed the $200,000 community-built Fernie Arena Tuesday night. Witnesses said the fire seemed to explode and engulf the entire building. It forced practising Fernie juvenile hockey players to flee in their uniforms.

Ferrarelli’s body was found about 10 p.m. Fernie time, about four hours after the fire had started, near the north end doorway.

Cause of the fire was unknown and investigation is to begin this morning.

Loss of the rink is a hard blow to Fernie, for it contained the Curling club Quarters and was a winter community centre.

Fifty years ago, in august, 1908, almost the entire town was razed by fire.

The arena fire broke out about 6 p.m. It appeared to start in one corner of the arena, near the dressing rooms at the north end.

Dominic Ferrarelli, a high school student, is survived by his mother and stepfather, Guseppe Boscjo, one brother, Vincent and one sister, Josephine. He was a member of the United Soccer club and the Junior baseball team.

Witnesses said a wall caved in almost immediately as the fire spread with lightening speed.

Thirty minutes later, the roof and walls collapsed. The aluminum roof had been covered with tar a year ago to check serious leakage.

Curling Club trophies, rocks and brooms were lost and a coffee shop operated by Mr. and Mrs. William Corrigan and the rink ticket office destroyed Fernie Rangers of the A – B.C. – M intermediate hockey league lost all equipment.

Firemen of the Fernie Volunteer Fire Department fought the blaze, but an hour after it started, the arena was a mass of smoking ruins.

The artificial ice rink was officially opened in January 1954 and the arena itself on Remembrance Day in 1952.

Initial steps in construction was taken prior to World War II, but economic conditions interfered so it was in 1951 when a new committee was finally organized. Construction started in 1951.

The arena was 234 feet long, 161 feet wide and 45 feet high. Sixteen huge double interlocked arches, each with an overthrow of 182 feet, supported the roof.

Seating capacity was 1200 and there was room for 800 standing customers.

There were four curling sheets all equipped with locker space, curlers’ room and heated observation room. The main ice surface was 180 feet by 80 feet.

Just Posted

Dynamiters win Game 3, Nitehawks on brink of elimination

McDowell scores twice to lift Kimberley Dynamiters to a 3-0 series lead against the B.V. Nitehawks,

Kimberley designers to host eco-friendly fashion show

ElChupacabra Collective is hosting a fashion show with a focus on sustainable, hand-made clothing

Creative Monkeys gets permanent home, launches summer camps

Grand opening for new studio is April 6

Military Ames hosting second annual Pasta with a Purpose fundraiser

For the Bulletin Military Ames is happy to announce our Second Annual… Continue reading

College of the Rockies to add 96 beds for student housing

$17.7 million project of six cottage-style buildings to be completed by 2020

Dynamiters keep their winning streak going

Nitros beat out the Nitehawks 4-3 in game two of the Conference finals.

Judges on Twitter? Ethical guidance for those on the bench under review

Canadian judges involvement in community life are among issues under review

Trudeau calls May 6 byelection for B.C. riding of Nanaimo-Ladysmith

The riding opened up when Sheila Malcolmson resigned in January

Calgary captain has 3 points as Flames torch Canucks 3-1

Giordano leads way as Alberta side cracks 100-point plateau

1,300 cruise ship passengers rescued by helicopter amid storm off Norway’s coast

Rescue teams with helicopters and boats were sent to evacuate the cruise ship under extremely difficult circumstances

B.C. university to offer first graduate program on mindfulness in Canada

University of the Fraser Valley says the mostly-online program focuses on self-care and well being

Province announces $18.6 million for B.C. Search and Rescue

The funding, spread over three years, to pay for operations, equipment, and training

Late-season wave of the flu makes its round in B.C.

BC Centre for Disease Control reported 50 per cent jump in flu cases in first weeks of March

Tofino’s housing crisis causing some to seek shelter at the local hospital

Tofino’s housing crisis is pushing the town’s ‘hidden homeless’ population into the forefront.

Most Read