Nfld. & Labrador

Loss of L'anse au Clair town centre devastating blow for residents

The community of L'Anse-au-Clair was dealt a devastating blow Tuesday when fire destroyed its main hub.

'It was sort of my building,' says Mayor Nath Moores

Several fire departments were battling a fire at the L'Anse au Clair community centre on Tuesday. (Will Fowler)

The people of L'Anse au Clair was dealt a devastating blow Tuesday when fire destroyed their community centre.

"We have nothing in the community now, we don't even have a place to have our council meeting," said Mayor Nath Moores.

"This was the heart of the community…  everything that you can think of in the community, that was the building."

The building, which was originally a school, had been renovated and expanded in recent years to house a seniors complex, a youth centre and gym, as well as offices that included the town council.

Moores said the emergency call came in at around 1:00 p.m. and he was one of the first on site.

 "We were on site and had our hoses on the building within five minutes… by the time we got there the flame was coming through the roof " he told CBC's Labrador Morning Show.

'It was sort of my building'

The town centre was the hub of the community, but for Moores, it held an extra special place in his heart.

We're one big community in an event like this.- Nath Moores

"It has a little bit more sentiment to me because I taught there for 21 years, from the time the school opened," said Moores.

"I was part of the design of the building because I was teaching here at the time as principal, and I was the only principal that worked there. The school opened under my watch and the year I retired, they closed it — so it was sort of my building."

Right place at the right time

Moores said the loss is tough but the outcome could have been much worse.

He said they were lucky to have extra help from firefighters in the neighbouring communities of L'Anse-au-Loup, Forteau and Blanc-Sablon.

"We're one big community in an event like this and every bit of equipment on the coast was there," said Moores.

"It's lucky it happened when it did... it was very little wind, [a] beautiful day and usually there's not a lot of firefighters in the community, most of them are working somewhere. But within a very short time most of our firefighters were on scene and within 20 minutes we had the neighbouring communities show up."

Out of the ashes

Crews battled the fire for six hours, said Moores, and an excavator was eventually called in to tear down the structure.

He said the fire was inside the roof and walls, making it difficult to put out.

Moores said the fire seemed to have originated in the seniors complex section of the building and the cause is still under investigation. 

He said once the dust settles and they get their "feet on the ground," the town will definitely rebuild the centre.

With files from Labrador Morning