Scott's Nursery suffers 'devastating damage'
The fire broke out at Scott's Nursery in a soil room and warehouse, which includes lunchrooms and offices. Employees, all of whom escaped the fire, described hearing a loud bang just before the blaze began.
Three buildings were destroyed. Several greenhouses and the garden centre suffered smoke and heat damage.
Jeanette Scott, a co-owner of the store, was in tears as she watched her family business burn.
"I was just sitting at the house and I have a big picture window that overlooks the greenhouses and I saw the explosion. I called [the] nursery and I called the 911," she said.
"And then I drove over. They got everyone out of the buildings, which was good. And the fire trucks were on their way. I don't know how much damage there is, I don't know how to assess it. There is a lot of damage. It is devastating damage, I would say."
The family estimates the damage will be in the millions of dollars.
Rodney Scott, son of co-owner Jim Scott, said the family is hoping insurance will cover most of the damages.
"God I hope so. We haven't talked to anybody yet but we'll probably hear from them today," Scott said.
"We can't touch anything for two or three days. The fire department wants to do an investigation. So we're just going to sit here and look at it, I guess."
Fire crews were still on the scene at 2 a.m. on Tuesday putting out hot spots.
Two firefighters who were taken to hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation have been released.
George Scott, the nursery's co-owner and a well-known local gardening expert, is in Newfoundland and Labrador on vacation. His two pet iguanas and the store's cat, all known well to regular customers, were also rescued from the blaze.
Smoke could be seen kilometres away
With fire crews still working on Monday afternoon, employees described how they scrambled to get out of the buildings where the fire erupted.
Nancy Ringer was working in the greenhouse when she heard the explosion.
"I was about 50 feet [15 metres] away when it popped and when that flame shot through the side and the roof, it was hot. I ran," she said.
She said she watched the fire quickly spread from the soil room to other nearby structures, burning the plastic on the greenhouses.
Andrew Lawson, retail manager at the store, called 911 when the fire began.
"By the time I got off the phone, the soil room was pretty well gone. It happened in a matter of maybe 10 minutes," he said.
The landmark garden centre is in Lincoln, which is just outside Fredericton's city limits, so that meant there were no fire hydrants from which to draw water. Firefighters set up pools of water that was being trucked in to fight the blaze.