Nova Scotia

Fire at Eyking Farms in Cape Breton destroys store, damages greenhouses

Crews from the Florence Fire Department called to blaze at 2:30 a.m. Sunday.

Crews from the Florence Fire Department called to blaze at 2:30 a.m. Sunday

A fire at Eyking Farms in Millville, Cape Breton, destroyed a store and damaged some greenhouses on June 25, 2017. (Nic Meloney/CBC)

A store at Eyking Farms in Millville, Cape Breton, was destroyed by an early-morning fire on Sunday.

Crews from the Florence Fire Department were called to the farm on Millville Highway by a passerby at about 2:30 a.m.

The department's deputy chief, Adam MacIntyre, said the store is a "total loss."

When crews arrived on scene, the fire was mostly contained to the back half of the building, which he estimated was about 40 by 100 feet.

"There was quite a bit of black smoke billowing through the eaves and through the front of the building," said MacIntyre.

"It breached the roof at that point. It is a tin building, so obviously the heat and flames were trapped inside, and the longer it was burning, the more it was heating up inside."

Oil and propane tanks inside

The building housed a store and a processing facility, and was attached to several large greenhouses through a pedway, said MacIntyre. Two of the greenhouses were also damaged.

The store at Eyking Farms in Millville, Cape Breton, was destroyed by fire early Sunday morning. (Google Streetview)

The deputy chief said four large furnace oil and propane tanks located both inside and outside the building helped fuel the blaze.

"At one point the roof started to collapse in, which fed the fire even more and more oxygen, and therefore the whole building got breached and the roof came right in on top of itself," said MacIntyre.

Lack of water impeded firefighting efforts

Buildings in the Millville area get their water supply from wells, so MacIntyre immediately called for crews from the Georges River and Big Bras d'Or fire departments to shuttle water from hydrants in the Point Aconi Road area, about 10 kilometres away.

Crews from the Sydney Mines, Southside Boularderie and Ross Ferry fire departments were later called to bring water and crews.

The water supply issue initially impeded efforts to fight the blaze, said MacIntyre.

"For the first hour or so, it was very hard to keep up with the water supply, but as more tankers arrived and started getting a good flow, we were able to maintain a water level in our portable holding tanks," he said.

"They were just constantly driving back and forth, dumping their 1,000 gallons plus into it and going again."

Crews were on the scene until about 9:45 a.m.

Cape Breton Regional Police said the cause has not yet been determined, but the fire marshal's office is investigating.