PEI

Montague Town Hall total loss after fire, says CAO

An overnight fire has destroyed the town hall in Montague, in eastern P.E.I., says the town's administrator.

'This one will be bulldozed'

Smoke continued to swirl from the Montague Town Hall sign on Thursday morning. (Brittany Spencer/CBC)

An overnight fire has destroyed the town hall in Montague, in eastern P.E.I., says the town's administrator.

Andrew Daggett said the first alarm came in about 4:30 a.m., and the fire grew out of control quickly.

"It looks really bad. The building is basically done," said Daggett.

A firefighter hits the structure with a wall of water early Thursday morning. (Brittany Spencer/CBC)

"I'd say this one will be bulldozed when it's all said and done, between the fact that it's got no roof and the structural damage."

But Daggett said firefighters were able to get office computers and physical files out of the building, and that will allow the town to get back to business within a few days. He said his own computer files were all in the cloud and not affected.

Deputy fire Chief Jock Beck said when fire crews arrived around 4:40 a.m. the entire roof of the hall was engulfed in flames. 

"The actual cause of the fire is yet to be determined and we'll be hearing from investigators in due course," Beck said. "Until that time we can only be grateful that most of the damage was to the roof and the office areas inside and the documents that are stored there are virtually untouched."

He added that no one was inside the building when the fire started and there were no injuries.

Council, staff discussing building new hall

Mayor of Montague Richard Collins said firefighters were also able to recover historic photographs from the hall that weren't damaged in the blaze.

He said he was a member of the building committee that planned the hall's construction over 30 years ago, and it's been difficult to see what's left of it.

"When I walked out of there yesterday afternoon I never dreamt that today the Montague Town Hall would be gone," Collins said.

Montague Mayor Richard Collins surveys the scene. (Brittany Spencer/CBC)

Collins said councillors and town staff were called to a meeting this afternoon to discuss what to do next and to start making plans to construct a new town hall. 

"My council and staff are meeting ... to debrief ourselves and to make some very quick decisions on perhaps appointing a building committee right away and to make sure we are back in business with a new town hall just as quickly as possible for the residents of Montague," Collins said. 

Town looking at temporary office space

Daggett said the town's administration will be moving into the Montague Rural Action Centre temporarily.

Shortly after Brenda Dewar took this photo, the roof timbers collapsed. (Submitted by Brenda Dewar)

Brenda Dewar, co-owner of Dewars Montague Bed and Breakfast, was out to have a look at the damage early.

"The trusses on the top, the triangles of them, were just skeleton," said Dewar.

"While I was there part of the roof fell down, so you won't see those trusses any more … The roof structure has caved in."

She said the first floor walls were still standing but it appears to be hollow inside. Firefighters are now cleaning up.

Montague Town Hall before the fire. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

More P.E.I. news

With files from Brittany Spencer

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