When Sharon Topping of Trepassey looked out her back window Tuesday morning she could see the smoke.
It was just after 8 a.m.
Topping, an enthusiastic photographer, grabbed her camera and headed to the town’s municipal building, which was on fire and burning fiercely.
“You could tell from here what the (burning) building was,” she told The Telegram at her home shortly after noon.
By then, the building was a smoking ruin. All that remained was the concrete foundation, blackened filing cabinets, folding chairs and other bits of debris.
When The Telegram arrived on the scene about 11:30 a.m., fire Chief Ken Hartery and his crew were already rolling up hoses leading to a nearby pond and packing their gear, while an RCMP cruiser waited to secure the scene.
No one was hurt.
“I have no idea how it started, but by the time we got here there was a lot of smoke coming out of the building and within five, 10 minutes it was up through the roof,” Hartery said.
He said the fire moved fast through the old wooden building.
But Hartery also said firefighters had some obstacles to overcome.
“We had no water here. We had to go back to the fire hall and fill up the truck with water,” said Hartery. “There’s no hydrants here. We got some water from the pond there with our pump.”
Besides that, the crew had to wait for Newfoundland Power to send someone from down the shore to cut the lines to the building.
Hartery said he expected fire investigators on the scene Wednesday to try and determine the cause.
“She’s a total loss,”he said of the building.
Town Coun. Dennis Pearce is also a firefighter and helped battle the blaze.
“The building is owned by the Trepassey Management Corporation,” he said, but noted the building was also home to the town council offices, and the local 4H and 50-Plus clubs.
Pearce said there was a lot of paper in the building. That may have helped fuel the fire.
“Especially in the back where all the old records (were),” he said.
Pearce said council will meet, likely early next week, to figure out what happens next.
But he said there was too much smoke and nothing could be saved.
“It’s devastating, of course,” Pearce said of the loss to the community
“It was sad. You really felt a loss there,” she said.
Topping became a member of the 50-Plus Club after she and her husband moved to the community from northern Saskatchewan last fall.
“We have found the 50-Plus group just enveloped us, they just surrounded us and made us feel so much part of this community,” she said.
Topping said there are a lot of retired people in the close-knit community who are members of the club.
“We (had) plans to have a breakfast with Santa Claus there and ... Christmas Day (club members) go there and they cook a full turkey dinner and everything for people who are alone,” she said. “Almost any day of the week there’s something going on (there).”
Topping went on to say the club lost all of its kitchen equipment as well as a TV and DVD player the club raised money for.
But Topping is sure the town will rally following the fire.
“I’m sure the town of Trepassey is going to come together and you’re going to find we’re going to survive,” she said.