'Total devastation': Norman's Cove-Long Cove fish plant burns to the ground
A massive fire that broke out Thursday night in Norman's Cove-Long Cove has flattened the fish plant in the small Trinity Bay community, putting hundreds out of work.
The Dorset Fisheries plant, a processor that employed about 240 people at its peak in a town of about 700, burned to the ground overnight in a massive industrial fire.
"It's total devastation for this little town, I can tell you," Bonnie Newhook, who worked at the fish plant since it opened, told CBC News Friday morning.
The plant had been opened for almost 30 years, and served as an anchor for fish plant workers and fishermen in the community and neighbouring areas.
"It's pretty hard to watch after all those years, seeing it go up in smoke," Newhook said.
A transformer near the plant caught fire at about 9 p.m., and within minutes the blaze had spread through the building, according to Gary Rideout, chief of the town's fire department.
About 50 firefighters from five different communities worked throughout the night but were unable to save the structure.
"The heat was so intense — we had propane bottles, acetylene bottles that were exploding," Rideout said in an interview.
Curtis Branton, chief of the responding Bellevue fire department, said the fire was intense, with a lot of smoke and flames.
No nearby boats were lost, and no one was injured in the incident.
Plant Owner Derrick Philpott arrived in Norman's Cove-Long Cove Friday morning to survey the damage.
He said the fire was "devastating."
"Thirty years — this is where I started," said Philpott, his voice breaking. "We'll assess the situation and see what we're going to do."
Newhook said many people in the town are now concerned about their own future following the loss of the business.
"Not for me, so much, because I was soon going to retire. But there's a lot of people here trusts to it for a living," she says.
Investigation to come
Plant manager Terry Reid said 70 to 80 people had been working at the fish plant in the community, processing capelin.
The workers finished up their shift and their cleanup at 6:30 p.m. Reid left at 7:45 p.m., but returned at 9 p.m when he got a call about the fire.
The Dorset Fisheries plant fire comes just three months after the major fire in Bay de Verde, where the Quinlan Brothers fish plant also burned to the ground.
Investigators are planning to enter the Dorset Fisheries site Saturday to begin determining the cause of the fire.
Big fire in <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NL?src=hash">#NL</a> tonight. Dorset Fisheries plant in Long Cove is on fire, Lori King sent this video: <a href="https://t.co/guIYCfp7BM">pic.twitter.com/guIYCfp7BM</a>—@McCabeMeg
With files from Cecil Haire, Terry Roberts and Paula Gale