Otter number 25 was delivered to the RCAF on 28th December 1953 with serial 3670 and was assigned to 121 Communications & Rescue Flight, based at RCAF Station Sea Island, Vancouver, BC. Although its existence was brief, it was involved in a number of rescues along the Pacific coast, i ncluding the search for USAF F-86D serial 51-2987 which crashed on Grouse Mountain near Vancouver on 12th February 1954, the Otter flying alongside two Expeditors and one Canso from 121 C&R Flight on that mission.
Otter 3670 was lost, reduced to ashes in fact, on the night of 29th April 1954 when fire destroyed Number Three hangar at Sea Island. Also lost in the blaze were Otter 3676 (34), two Beech Expeditors, a Lancaster and a helicopter. The following report is from the Vancouver Sun newspaper: “Air Force authorities will hold an immediate top-level investigation into a $1.5 million fire that razed a huge RCAF hangar on Sea Island Thursday night. Fire-fighters early today were still pouring water on the smouldering ruins of No.3 Hangar, which caught fire shortly after 9.30pm and quickly developed into a blaze that destroyed the entire building and its contents including six aircraft, thousands of dollars worth of equipment, tools and airmen's personal possessions”.
“Air Force authorities said they were mystified as to the cause of the fire, which is believed to have broken out in on corner of the building, then spread quickly along the rafters. A violent series of explosions shook the burning structure as 2,000 gallons of high octane gasoline contained in the planes fuel tanks were reached by the flames. At least one oxygen tank also exploded, hurling pieces of steel shrapnel out of the centre of the holocaust. Most of the thirty signal flares stored in the planes inside shot out of the fire like sky rockets”.
“One of a series of explosions that ripped through the structure came shortly after the blaze broke out, when the entire roof buckled and crashed, sending showers of sparks and billows of black smoke mushrooming into the night sky. Lost in the blaze were one Lancaster bomber, two Expeditors, two Otters and one helicopter. Three Cansos near the hangar were saved. The building was the headquarters for the RCAF's search and rescue operation, and most of the planes destroyed were used for these operations”. 121 Communications & Rescue Flight moved to Dougherty Barn to continue its operations from there.
History courtesy of Karl E. Hayes from DHC-3 Otter: A History (2005).