Nfld. & Labrador

Blaze destroys N.L. town's fire hall

A spectacular blaze has destroyed the fire hall in Baie Verte, N.L., wiping out the community's firefighting equipment and vehicles.
A spectacular blaze destroyed the fire hall and all the fire equipment at the Baie Verte fire department Wednesday night. ((Courtesy: Jason McKenzie))
A spectacular blaze destroyed the fire hall in Baie Verte, N.L., Wednesday evening, wiping out all the community's firefighting equipment and vehicles with damage estimated at hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"I tried to activate the emergency fire department number," Gerald Acreman, the mayor of the town of about 1,200 on Newfoundland's north coast, told CBC News. "But our fire system couldn't be activated, so I had to get people by cellphone."

Acreman said he was at home around 7:30 p.m. NT when someone knocked on his door to say there was smoke coming from the fire hall. Acreman said he rounded up as many volunteer firefighters as he could, but "basically there was nothing we could do."

People living in several houses in the area were told to leave their homes as the intense flames seemed to be getting out of control; however, several fire departments from nearby communities arrived a short time later and helped keep the blaze from spreading beyond the fire hall.

It's the second large fire involving department property in less than three months. On Nov. 21 the building the firefighters used for training, called a smokehouse, was levelled by fire. Police said at the time that the loss of the wooden structure, located about a kilometre outside town, was a significant blow to the department.

Acreman said people were in shock Wednesday evening, once again watching vital fire equipment being destroyed.

Investigators are trying to figure out what caused a fire that destroyed the fire hall and al lhe fire equipment in Baie Verte, N.L., Wednesday evening. ((Courtesy: Sharon Bailey))
"There were people in tears. It was just unbelievable. It was just total devastation for everybody."

A member of the town council, Scott Bailey, said residents "were in shock."

The town of Springdale, about 95 kilometres south of Baie Verte, sent a fire truck to remain on standby in case it is needed, and a truck was expected to arrive on loan from the fire training facility in Stephenville.

No one was injured in the fire. Investigators were waiting for the area to cool before going through the debris to look for a cause.

There was insurance on the building and property, but town officials said it could take a year or more to rebuild.