Nova Scotia

Investigation underway after rural N.S. fire department goes up in flames

The fire department building in the rural community of Shinimicas in northern Nova Scotia went up in flames Thursday night. Three fire trucks were lost in the fire.

Building, 3 fire trucks destroyed in Shinimicas, N.S.

The Shinimicas Fire Department chief said the building is a total loss after it caught fire Thursday night. (Submitted by Monica Fisher)

Nova Scotia's fire marshal is investigating after a fire hall in the rural community of Shinimicas in northern Nova Scotia went up in flames Thursday night.

Jesse Brine, the chief of the Shinimicas Fire Department, said his members responded to the blaze after getting a call at around 8:45 p.m.

When they arrived, they saw a pumper truck was on fire inside the hall, which is located about 30 kilometres east of Amherst, N.S. The firefighters attempted to get the other two trucks out of the building, but the smoke was too heavy.

"We have three trucks inside. They're all pretty much probably [written] off," he said, though it might be possible to salvage parts from one.

Unclear how fire began

Fire departments in Pugwash, Tidnish Bridge, Truemanville, Amherst, Oxford, Leicester, Springhill and Collingwood responded and firefighters were on scene until around 1 a.m.

It's unclear how the fire began, but a news release from the Municipality of Cumberland County said the fire marshal is on-site Friday to investigate.

"An important part of the Shinimicas area was lost last night due to this devastating fire. We recognize
the importance of this building to the community," said Joe van Vulpen, district councillor, in the release.

The release also said fire chiefs from Pugwash, Tidnish Bridge and Truemanville will ensure fire coverage for Shinimicas.

'A fixture of the community' 

While the building itself is still standing, Brine said it's a total loss.

"The roof is sagging, and it's going to have to be torn down," he said.

Monica Fisher, who lives nearby, was the person who originally called for help. She said she looked out her living room window at around 8:30 p.m. on Thursday to see a "ball of black smoke" above the building.

The smoke appeared to be in the direction of where her husband's mother lives, so she and her husband drove down to check it out.

"When we arrived, we saw that one of the doors where the fire trucks are parked was full of flames," she said. 

Her niece, who also lives in the area, told her that she had heard two explosions. 

Monica Fisher said the fire hall was a big part of the small community. (Submitted by Monica Fisher)

Fisher said she was saddened about the ravaged building.

"It was a fixture of the community. We had a lot of fundraiser supports, pork chop barbecues, a lot of receptions held there, and anniversary parties," she said. 

"It's something that kind of brought our community together, at times." 

Andy Yarrow, chief of the Pugwash Fire Department, said if there's a silver lining, it's the teamwork demonstrated by the departments that responded.

"We worked really well together. It's not often that that many departments work together at a fire scene," he said. "Things went very well, all things considered."