PEI

Tyne Valley rink 'total loss,' say fire officials

The Tyne Valley Community Sports Centre has been destroyed by fire, according to the community's fire chief.

'All my memories growing up are at this rink'

What remains of the Tyne Valley rink smoulders on Sunday morning. (Travis Kingdon/CBC)

The Tyne Valley Community Sports Centre in Tyne Valley, P.E.I., was destroyed by fire early Sunday.

The building is a "total loss," said Tyne Valley Fire Chief William Bishop.

The Tyne Valley department got the call at 2:50 a.m. Sunday and battled the blaze until 7 a.m., Bishop said.

"The building has one door at the front," he said. "The flames were coming out through the front door and the roof of the building."

The rink was the centre of the Tyne Valley community, says the local fire chief. (Travis Kingdon/CBC)

Bishop said the building only has three doors. When firefighters opened the front door there was heavy smoke so firefighters couldn't get inside to fight the blaze.

"We had to call in some heavy equipment to tear down the steel off the walls to get in and fight the fire," he said.

While the Tyne Valley rink was destroyed by fire the arena's ice-resurfacing machine was salvaged. (Travis Kingdon/CBC)

Various Island fire departments responded to the call including Summerside, Lennox Island, Wellington and Miscouche.

Bishop said the fire is under control and there are just "a few hot spots left."

The rink was the centre of the community, he said.

"It's quite a loss for the community," he said. "I mean we don't have any major infrastructure, nothing like that in the community other than the rink. So when you take something like that out of your community it is quite a low."

The sports centre has dealt with some issues in the past few weeks. It recently reopened on Dec. 19 after it was closed for a couple of days due to carbon dioxide levels above recommended limits. 

At the time, the future of the rink was uncertain.

The rink's board reached out to the province for financial support to cover the cost of repairs. It was the second time the rink had to be shut down in less than a month.

Jeff Noye, the mayor of Tyne Valley says he knows his community is strong and it will come together and move forward from the loss of the arena. (Travis Kingdon/CBC)

Jeff Noye, the mayor of Tyne Valley, said it has been a tough year for the rink.

"The community sports centres in this province mean everything to us," he said. "They are our community, especially for your rural areas, and it's not just the rink it's the oyster festival. It is everything to us," he said.

He said most of the talk in the community is how to go forward.

Noye said no one was inside the arena at the time of the fire. "That's the main thing, nobody was injured," he said.

A resident who lives near the rink doesn't believe anything can be salvaged. (Contributed by Mary Moore-Phillips)

Mary Moore-Phillips, who lives about five minutes away, said she's "in shock" about what happened to the rink.

She said her daughter woke her up at 6:30 a.m. and the family went to see what was happening at the centre.

"It looked really intense," she said. "I don't think anything can be salvaged."

Moore-Phillips said many of her family members played hockey and most of the major community events happen at the rink.

"It's a big loss for our community," she said. "We really value our rink."

The Tyne Valley rink hosted hockey games, Sunday skates and was home to community events like the Oyster Shucking Championship. (Travis Kingdon/CBC)

Emily Barlow was throwing a party at the firehall across the road from the rink and left around 1 a.m. Sunday, she told CBC via Facebook Messenger.

"When my friends and I left, we could smell wood smoke, but it wasn't anything weird as most people in the valley have a wood stove," Barlow said.

About a half hour later Barlow was driving a friend home and went past the arena.

"As we were driving by the rink we noticed flames at the front door. My friend's boyfriend called 911 and was told there was already a report of the fire."

Barlow said when firefighters arrived they had hoses at the front door and "were doing everything they could."

Bishop said he doesn't believe the fire is related to issues at the arena earlier this month. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

The Tyne Valley rink was built in 1964. (Travis Kingdon/CBC)

Jonathan Smith has lived in Tyne Valley his whole life. He said "it is pretty devastating" to lose the arena.

"It's really the main gathering point I would say. All my memories growing up are at this rink," he said.

Smith said he believes the community will rally together and find a way to rebuild.

"Not quite sure what to feel. Sad. Heartbreaking," he said.

Smith said he will always have memories of the arena. He played and coached hockey at the rink and helped organize the annual oyster event.

Smith said without the arena hosting events he isn't sure what he is going to get up to this winter. Smith said he spent most of his time at the arena.

"It's going to be a boring winter," he said.

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With files from Travis Kingdon and Alex Cooke

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