Nfld. & Labrador

'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.

Fire at Norman's Cove-Long Cove fish plant

Here and Now

5 years ago
1:17
Fire at Norman's Cove-Long Cove fish plant 1:17

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.

The Dorset Fisheries fish plant in Norman's Cove-Long Cove burned to the ground in a fire that started Thursday night. (Ida Newhook/Facebook)

'Intense heat'

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.

Onlookers watch as the Dorset Fisheries fish plant in Norman's Cove-Long Cove burns to the ground Thursday night. (Ida Newhook/Facebook)

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.

Devastating loss

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."

Fire Chief Gary Rideout on fish plant fire

NL

5 years ago
1:58
Fire Chief Gary Rideout on fish plant fire 1:58

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.

Firefighters remained on scene at the site of the Norman's Cove-Long Cove fish plant building to deal with lingering hotspots. (Cecil Haire/CBC)

Investigation to come

Fire has caused heavy damage to a fish processing plant in Norman's Cove-Long Cove. (Google Maps)

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.

With files from Cecil Haire, Terry Roberts and Paula Gale

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