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Bear Creek Roadhouse burns, October 1919

Historic Alaska Highway Lodges & Roadhouses

The Weekly Star, Whitehorse, Yukon Territory - Friday, October 31, 1919

Bear Creek Fire, 1919 - Roadhouse Keepers Suffer an Approximate Loss of $3,000

    Frank Sketch, who reached town Oct. 23 on his return from the head of the White river with Charley Baxter's pack train, brought in the particulars of the total destruction of the Bear Creek roadhouse by fire on the morning of Oct. 17, an almost calamitous happening to Mr. and Mrs. Jos. Beauchamp, who have put in many years' hard work in making a home for themselves only to have it go up in flames and smoke within a short half hour. Their loss was, we are informed, in the neighborhood of $33,000 with no insurance.

    On the night of Oct. 16 there were stopping at the roadhouse Frank Sketch, Louis Jacquot, Al. Voss and Sidney Frank. The latter slept in a bunk house, a few feet distant in the rear of the main building, while the others occupied quarters in the nearby Baxter cabin.

    About 3 a. m. Oct. 17 Sidney Frank was awakened by Mrs. Beauchamp, who told him the roadhouse was on fire. Hastily dressing he made his way toward the burning building and found that in the interval between the giving of the alarm and his arrival Mrs. Beauchamp had re-entered the dining room in an effort to save some of the family effects and that her retreat by way of the door through which she had gone in was effectually cut off by a sea of roaring flames that momentarily threatened to envelop and overcome her.

    There was only one other avenue of escape for Mrs. Beauchamp, a small window, and promptly breaking the glass in that Frank seized and drew her through, both rescuer and rescued getting quite severely burned in the operation, although not dangerously so.

    In the meantime Sketch, Voss and Jacquot had been aroused and appeared on the scene. They made an effort to get some of the things out of the house, but the heat was so intense they had to desist, after getting their hair and eyebrows badly singed.

    Mrs. Beauchamp escaped bare-footed and in her night clothes, and succeeded in saving only one shoe and a set of furs.

    The fire is supposed to have originated from the explosion of a gasoline lamp that had been left burning in the dining room.

    Mr. Beauchamp was on the way home from Whitehorse with a wagon load of supplies for the winter when the unfortunate occurence took place. With characteristic energy, however, as soon as he got home he commenced to plan for the rebuilding of the roadhouse and probably ere this work has started. In the meantime Mr. and Mrs. Beauchamp will occupy the Baxter cabin.

    As soon as the news of the fire was brought to town the I. O. D. E. got busy in soliciting contributions of clothing from the ladies of the town, and by this means secured an ample supply for Mrs. Beauchamp's needs, which they at once forwarded to Bear creek.

    Mrs. Joe Beauchamp died in April 26, 1926, at the age of 56, and was buried at the Sixth Avenue Cemetery in Whitehorse (now called the Pioneer Cemetery). The location of her grave site, however, is not known. The fate of Joseph Beauchamp is not yet known.