New Brunswick

Fire destroys historic Saint John inn

The historic Inn on the Cove and Spa in Saint John, N.B., is a total loss after a fire Sunday afternoon, say fire officials.

The historic Inn on the Cove and Spa in Saint John is a total loss after a fire Sunday afternoon, say fire officials.

Twenty-five firefighters responded to the call, but there was little they could do to save the century-old building, which still stands, but is completely gutted inside.

Fire Chief Joe Armstrong said the old architecture and high ceilings trapped the fire and fuelled the flames.

"It takes a lot of work to pull the walls and pull the ceilings down and get at all the hot spots, so crews were here until well after 11 o'clock last night," he said.

The inn overlooking the Bay of Fundy was originally a private home but had been transformed into a popular seaside tourist spot by Ross and Willa Mavis more than 20 years year ago.

Though off-season, the inn did have a number of guests staying through the weekend, as well as living there on month-to- month rentals.

Amazingly, no one was in the building when the fire started.

"Crews did an extensive interior search just to make sure and determine nobody was home at the time," said Armstrong.

Ross and Willa Mavis weren't taking calls Monday, but the fire isn't just a loss to them. The inn was an important part of the entire community.

Loss felt by many

The Inn on the Cove and Spa in Saint John was destroyed by fire. (submitted by Frank Soucy)
Neighbour Frank Soucy was on the scene when fire crews arrived. He watched the flames destroy the old building.

"It looked almost like a chimney fire kind of thing. It was all coming out the left side of the roof," he said. 

Soucy said it's a devastating loss to his neighbourhood.

"The west side always seems to struggle to keep businesses going. So I would say anything on the west side is a great loss, especially Inn on the Cove. They provided a great service."

A steady stream of traffic drove by the site Monday afternoon.

Some drivers, including Doug King, got out to look.

"I've eaten here, I've stayed here, actually overnight here. The wife has got her fingernails done, and I even had my toenails done, and all that stuff. It was a great spot to come and visit," said King.

Jim Quigley stayed at the Inn Friday night to celebrate his birthday on Sunday.

"It was a beautiful place to stay. We always loved coming. A nice beautiful view. And I think everybody that came really liked coming to the place too," said Quigley.

Fire officials say the cause is still under investigation.