Nova Scotia

Truro fire destroys building containing NovelTea bookstore

The building containing the NovelTea Bookstore Cafe and several other businesses including a laundromat in downtown Truro, N.S., caught fire Sunday night.

There are no reported injuries

The fire Sunday night ripped through the building that housed NovelTea Bookstore Cafe and several other businesses. (Submitted by Lori Shepherd)

The building containing the NovelTea Bookstore Cafe and several other businesses including a laundromat in downtown Truro, N.S., was destroyed by fire Sunday night.

No one was injured in the fire, the Red Cross said in a news release. 

But heavy smoke forced the evacuation of tenants from apartments across the street. At least four adults have been temporarily displaced because of the smoke. The Red Cross has arranged for emergency lodging for three of them.

There's no word yet on why the fire started.

Mark Wheeler, who lives across the road from the building but was not one of the evacuees, said smoke started to billow from the structure around 11 p.m. Sunday. After a while flames started shooting from the roof. 

"They came through with a quite a bit of authority," said Wheeler. "You could feel the heat even though we weren't right up against it, but we were concerned it would spread to the buildings next door." 

He watched firefighters soak the fire with water until around 4 a.m. or 5 a.m. this morning. 

"I didn't feel comfortable going to bed because you never know what's going to happen."

It took hours for firefighters to put out the blaze. (Submitted by Lori Shepherd)

Truro Fire Service at first tried to send firefighters into the building, but that didn't last, said Chief Blois Currie. 

"Once they got in so far it was too hot, we had to pull everybody out," said Blois.

The building was old and the fire was so hot that Blois worried firefighters might fall through fire-weakened floors.

Firefighters then switched gears and tried to keep the fire from spreading to neighbouring homes and propane tanks near the building.

"There were six large propane tanks that we wanted to concentrate our efforts on so that we could keep them cool during the extinguishing of the fire," said Blois. 

The building containing the NovelTea Bookstore Cafe was a shell of its former self on Monday. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

Heather Nicks also lives across the road from the fire. 

"What really scared myself is the windows in my apartment were really, really warm, or hot to touch. It got bad, really, really bad, it melted siding off the house across the street," she said.    

Firefighters managed to save all the surrounding buildings and prevented the propane tanks from exploding, but the NovelTea building was gutted by the blaze.     

And that will be hard on the community, said Wheeler.  

"We had four businesses in one building that were all doing reasonably well, and that's jobs that are no longer in the community, that's income that the community is not going to be generating. There's a lot of people effected by this fire, it's pretty upsetting. It's something Truro did not need on top of COVID."    

Firefighters left the scene around 8:30 a.m. The fire marshal's office will be investigating the cause of the blaze. 

This house near the fire was one of the buildings evacuated. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

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With files from Paul Palmeter

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