Hamilton

Fire at Flamborough nudist resort causes $50K in damage to trailers, golf carts

Firefighters from 14 units responded to the fire at Ponderosa Nature Resort on Concession Road 8 West just after midnight and found a fifth-wheel trailer burning.

Officials suspect the fire was caused by an electrical issue

Damage is estimated at $50,000 after a fire at Ponderosa Nature Resort. (Andrew Collins/CBC)

Dory Ainsworth looked out her window just after midnight Monday and saw a fireball shooting into the sky. 

In a panic, the nudist and acting manager of Ponderosa Nature resort in Flamborough pulled on her clothes and dialled 911.

"I was laying bed, trying to sleep. My husband was snoring like crazy and I heard a big boom and it shook the ground," she recalled Tuesday morning.

Her husband told her she was dreaming, but when a second blast rattled their home they both jumped out of bed.

"We saw the fireball. The whole trailer was already engulfed in flames and [they were] quite high."

Ainsworth said from her vantage point it looked like the camp's clubhouse could be on fire. The building, which houses an indoor pool, hot tub and sauna, acts as the community centre for the park that covers 100-acres and is home to about 88 year-round residents.

Damage pegged at $50K

In the end, Ainsworth said the clubhouse was safe, but a fifth-wheel trailer, rental cabin, two golf carts and a race car trailer belonging to the resort's owner went up in flames.

Fourteen fire trucks responded to the fire on Concession Road 8 West. Hamilton Fire Department Deputy Fire Chief John Verbeek said damage is estimated at $50,000 and officials suspect the fire was sparked by an electrical issue.

The Ponderosa Nature Resort covers 100 acres and is home to about 88 year-round residents. (Ponderosa Nature Resort)

But Ainsworth said it's her understanding the trailer that burned up was a seasonal retreat that wasn't hooked up to electricity.

"We figure everybody in Hamilton showed up," she said with a laugh. "They didn't need that many [firefighters], it wasn't that bad."

Ainsworth said she understands the nature of the resort could make any emergency situation there unique and the subject of questions from the public.

But despite the size of the fire and the resort's purpose, the park didn't see any curious people hoping to sneak a peek.

There were no nude people walking around that fire last night, no, no.- Dory Ainsworth, Ponderosa Nature Resort

Good thing too, because they would have left disappointed.

With an extreme cold warning issued for the Hamilton area early Monday morning and the wind chill making it feel like –30, there isn't a lot of nudity at the Ponderosa right now.

"We're not stupid," she said with a laugh, noting she was wearing a parka and "all of her clothes" while speaking with CBC News over the phone. "I am not nude."

That approach extends across the park during the colder months, but Ainsworth said there are still places to strip down if need be.

"We do try to keep the clubhouse warm in the winter so if you want to be nude inside you do have the opportunity to do it. My house is also kept very warm so if you want to come in and be nude you're welcome to drop you clothes."

But, "as soon as I step out the door I'm dressed the same way you are. There were no nude people walking around that fire last night, no, no."

Think of what your grandmother would say

Ainsworth said she's no stranger to questions about what goes on at the resort. Without even being asked, she answered the most common one — what happens if someone gets, uh, excited while visiting?

That's not what the park is about, she insists. It's a place for families to "take your clothes off and feel free and go for a skinny dip without looking over your shoulder to see if you're going to get charged for being nude."

The majority of people never have a problem. But in the event of an unexpected phyisical reaction to any visual stimulation, she has some simple advice.

"If something of that nature does happen, our advice is think about what your grandmother would say if she saw that and think about something else to get rid of that because that is not welcome here."

Clubhouse open to the community

She added the resort is home to many elderly people so the fire department and EMS aren't strangers to stopping by and even have a button they can use to lift the community's gate when it's closed.

"Oh, they're not surprised at what goes on here."

Ainsworth said the resort's residents look out for each other. On Monday that took the form of coffee at the clubhouse and comfort.

"Everybody is fine. We've opened the clubhouse for curiosity among our neighbours in the community. If they want to drop in and chat because this is traumatic."

About the Author

Dan Taekema is a reporter/editor with CBC Hamilton. Email: daniel.taekema@cbc.ca

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