Ottawa's historic Earnscliffe Manor damaged by fire

Ottawa firefighters successfully doused a four-alarm blaze at historic Earnscliffe Manor, home of the British high commissioner to Canada and onetime residence of Canada's first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald.
Ottawa firefighters doused a four alarm fire at Earnscliffe Manor Tuesday night, which started in the attic. Crews were able to confine it there and save much of the historic building. (Ottawa Fire Services)

Ottawa firefighters successfully doused a four-alarm blaze at historic Earnscliffe Manor, home of the British high commissioner to Canada and onetime residence of Canada's first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald.

The fire has mostly been contained to the attic of the Victorian home at 140 Sussex Dr., according to firefighters who attended the scene, who are trying to salvage items from the house.

The age of the building forced firefighters to tear down walls and ceilings to ensure the fire did not spread. Ottawa fire department spokesman Marc Messier said there was substantial damage to the interior of the residence on the third floor near where the fire started. He estimated damage at $250,000.

The fire was reported around 7:30 p.m. and Messier said the blaze was confined to the attic shortly after.

Police said there were no reports of injuries.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird was returning to his office across the road from the residence and stopped when he saw the fire trucks.

He was allowed past the yellow security tape and into the mansion to meet with the envoy.

"This is a really important building for Canadian history," Baird told reporters later.

"We're thrilled and very thankful that no one has been injured."

The British High Commissioner Andrew Pocock also talked with people outside the building.

The Victorian manor at 140 Sussex Dr. has been the official residence of the British high commissioner since 1930. It is one of Canada's most prestigious addresses, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the French ambassador are neighbours.

It was built in 1857 and was Macdonald's home from 1883 to 1891.

With files from The Canadian Press