On February 18, 1967 at 00:30 hours, a giant wall of water slammed into Pine Island, destroying buildings and washing away equipment and personal possessions. [B&W photo left] The following article describes it well.
(If anyone knows the author, or or where this article came from, please let me know so I can give credit. It appeared with the photo on the left of the page and the page was numbered 13. Thanks.- JAC)
Fury . . . and British Columbia
Pine Island, B.C. – The worst damage in the history of British Columbia’s coastal lighthouses was inflicted here recently when a 50 foot wall of water slammed into this tiny island during a raging storm.
Lightkeeper Rex Brown, 43, was reported to have credited a premonition of disaster with saving his life and that of his 49-year old assistant, J. P. Lewis, as the two men were inspecting the station’s powerhouse during the storm.
“It was like an earthquake,” recalled Mr. Brown, who said he turned to his partner and shouted “let’s get out of here” just before the wall of water struck the building.
The giant wave, which slammd the island as 100-mile-an-hour winds howled, flattened the powerhouse seconds later, carried away three 2,000-gallon fuel tanks, smashed a radio beacon, deposited a shed on the front porch of Mr. Lewis’ home, washed away a boathouse and punched holes in the concrete base of the light beacon.
The wave hit early Feb. 18, but no word was heard from the station until late in the day when a Dutch freighter radioed that the lightkeepers and their families had escaped injury in the storm.
The six residents of the lightstation, located on an island off the northern tip of Vancouver Island 3/4 of a mile long by 1/2 a mile wide, included Mr. and Mrs. Brown and their two children and Mr. Lewis and his wife.
Coast Guard officials dispatched CCGS Camsel to the scene with building supplies, food, a pre-fabricated shed, diesel generator, fuel, fog alarm equipment, an aerial hoist and winch, and a shore party of 15 men to help put the station back in operation.
In a report [Page 1, Page 2] on the storm to L. E. Slaght, district marine agent at Victoria, Mr. Brown, said: “My severest personal loss, apart from tools which can be replaced and are only worth money, was two boxes that were down in the building in the process of being packed. One contained about a dozen volumes of rare B.C. historical books with a market value of $250, duplicates from my collection. These were individually wrapped in thick newspaper and would have survived water damage but were carried away. The other, a good-sized wooden box contained all my photograph albums, part of a fine stamp colIection that was my father’s, and a lot of old family items.”
In letters to the lightkeepers and their families, Mr. Slaght said, in part: “You have gone through the most trying and nerve-wracking experience I hope you will ever encounter. The stoic calm and capable manner that you displayed in handling the hazardous experience and encountering the full fury of the storm-tossed sea, shows considerable personal strength.”
Mr. Slaght said that the Department was planning to undertake the construction of two new buildings, a fog alarm building and a storage building later this year.
The worst damage inflicted on a station prior to this occured at Egg Island lighthouse, 25 miles northwest of Pine Island, when a storm levelled both installation and buildings on November 2, 1948.
Both houses were later rebuilt farther up the island away from the sea.
The only thing left at Pine from the storm is the old helicopter pad. They built the new tower on top of the old foundation of the house.
“Apparently they used it as a swimming pool for awhile then they filled it up for the new tower to go on.” (Leslie Williamson, former assistant on Pine Island)
– Pen Brown (Principal keeper – Pine Island 1957 – 1967)