Nova Scotia

Bear River band office destroyed in early morning blaze

The Bear River fire department was notified of an alarm sounding at the Bear River First Nation band office around 1:20 a.m. AT Friday.

Nobody was inside, cause of fire has not been determined

Firefighters fought the blaze for about three hours. (Submitted by Robert Morgan/Digby Fire Dept.)

RCMP are investigating a fire in Bear River that destroyed an important landmark in the small Nova Scotia community Friday.

At around 1:20 a.m. AT, the Bear River fire department was notified of an alarm sounding at the Bear River First Nation band office at 130 Reservation Rd. Multiple fire departments in the area responded to put out the fire.

Officials say nobody was inside the building and there were no injuries.

Bear River fire Chief David McCormick said one of the department's members was passing by on his way to the fire hall when he saw the building was ablaze.

"[He] realized that it was a full-out structure fire [and] he called the fire hall," McCormick said, adding that surrounding fire stations were then paged to assist.

Building fully engulfed in flames

The building was fully engulfed in flames when the Digby fire department arrived at the scene at around 2 a.m.

Firefighters battled the flames for about three hours, said Digby fire Chief Robert Morgan.

"It was pretty well knocked down by probably around 5 [a.m.]," he said, adding that an excavator was brought in to tear down the rest of the building so the fire could be extinguished.

McCormick said a small area of the surrounding woods burned and there was some minor damage to a neighbouring building.

The cause of the fire has not been determined.

Scene secured as investigation begins

In a news release, Digby RCMP said it had secured the scene and contacted the provincial fire marshal's office to assist with the investigation.

"Based on the evidence collected, it is possible that the fire was suspicious in nature," the release said. "Further details will be released as the investigation progresses."

McCormick said the fire hall and Bear River First Nation work together closely on fire protection in the community.

"It's a huge loss. There's a lot of history that goes with that building," he said, adding that the building was built about 40 years ago with post-and-beam construction.

"It was a beautiful building inside."