New Brunswick

Woodstock fire destroys historic Rose Building

An historic building in the heart of downtown Woodstock was destroyed and two adjacent buildings were damaged by fire on Tuesday morning, leaving 22 residents and at least two businesses displaced.

22 residents and at least 2 businesses displaced by fire in building on Main Street, in heart of town

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      An historic building in the heart of downtown Woodstock was destroyed and two adjacent buildings were damaged by fire on Tuesday morning, leaving 22 residents and at least two businesses displaced.

      Town Mayor Arthur Slipp says the destruction of any building is a loss to the town, but the Rose Building, particularly so. "It's devastating," he said.

      "In a small community, everyone's concerned about the health of our downtown core. Those are heritage buildings in our community. They're brick facades, they're known province-wide, and it's a tremendous tourism draw here in the summertime."

      Woodstock Mayor Art Slipp called the loss of the heritage building 'devastating' for the town. (Stephanie Sirois/CBC)
      Woodstock, located about 100 kilometres west of Fredericton, "boasts some of the finest 19th century Victorian heritage homes, churches and civic buildings," according to the town's website.

      The building, located at 645 Main St., between the town bridge and Tim Hortons, housed the Max Skate & Snow shop and Mother Nature's Market on the ground floor and three apartments on the second-storey.

      Fire Chief Ricky Nicholson said he believes the fire started in the middle apartment unit and smoke alarms were operating, but the building is unsalvageable.

      Emergency crews responded to the scene shortly after 9 a.m. and crews from neighbouring Hartland and Houlton, Me., were also called in to assist.

      Thick black smoke and flames were shooting from the building, as passersby watch in horror. Firefighters worked quickly to extinguish the blaze and prevent it from spreading to the attached adjacent buildings.

      Joel Rose, who owns the building, talked on his cellphone as he stood and watched the fire burn. (Stephanie Sirois/CBC)
      They kept a steady stream of water on the roof and smashed one of the apartment windows to gain access to the interior as the fire raged. They worked in shifts in the extreme heat.

      Joel Rose, the building's owner, stood in the middle of the street and talked on his cellphone as he watched his building burn.

      He told CBC News he is sad. The loss of the building is difficult for him, he said.

      The fire forced a total of 22 residents, from the Rose Building, and the two adjacent buildings, according to Dan Bedell, communications director for the Canadian Red Cross, Atlantic region.

      Disaster volunteers, who were on site, have arranged emergency lodging, food and clothing purchases for 13 adults and three children, said Bedell.

      Four other adults have been referred to other agencies that will provide emergency assistance, while the remaining two adults have made their own arrangements, he said.

      The adjacent two-storey and three-storey buildings, which were also evacuated, sustained smoke and water damage, said Bedell.

      They housed six upper-floor apartments and a number of ground-level businesses, including a restaurant, clothing boutique and a real estate agency, he said.

      At least two cats were rescued from the building and given prompt medical attention. The cats will be housed at a local pet kennel for a few days, officials said.

      Woodstock police urged people to avoid the town bridge to the courthouse, as well as Connell Street near the Main Street intersection. They used social media to get the alert out.

      The street was blocked to traffic for much of the day and yellow caution tape was used to cordon off the area to keep the crowd back.

      Power to the area was also disconnected.

      The smell of smoke was heavy in the air and rubble covers the street, CBC's Stephanie Sirois reported from the scene.

      The Woodstock courthouse closed at noon, due to the fire, government officials announced. All court matters scheduled for the afternoon will be rescheduled to July 29 and civil documents can be filed at the Service New Brunswick office instead, they said.

      With files from Stephanie Sirois