Wind knocks down Howley fire station extension

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Mayor vows community will support firefighters in quest to rebuild

Nearly two years to the day after high winds caused major damage to Howley’s main fire station, the winds struck again.

Howley fire Chief Derek Murphy stands next to a pile of mangled lumber and staging which are all that remains of the early stages of an addition to the main fire station. The extension blew down in high winds on Sunday. — Photos by Paul Hutchings/The Western Star

This time it damaged the new addition which is under construction, and was aboutone-third complete.

The extension was supposed to house a newly donated service vehicle for rescue and support.

The large truck, recently donated by Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, was too large for the existing garage bays, creating the need for the extension.

Last Sunday, Howley experienced what fire Chief Derek Murphy called, “a windstorm unlike anything the area has seen for quite a while,” which destroyed the extension.

A pile of pre-fabricated wood pieces and joists now sit on a concrete foundation that Murphy said probably won’t be completed until the spring.

“Or when it gets warmer, anyway,” said Murphy. “We’ll dismantle it, see what’s there that’s salvageable and start over again. That’s all we can do.”

The materials for the extension were paid for through a $13,000 provincial grant, which Murphy said included the condition that the project be completed within a certain time frame.

Fortunately, he said, the community has been released from that time frame, but will still have the chore to fix it again.

Murphy said that may not happen until April or May.

In January 2012, high winds caused severe damage to the roof of the fire station building, which was fixed using sheet metal and bolts.

The building was part of the railroad, and there are still visible rails on the floor through the building.

But the new addition is completely flattened.

“When Mother Nature decides she’s going to flatten something, there’s not really much we can do about it,” Murphy said.

“This is disappointing.”

Assessments are  being performed, with calls going out to insurance companies. In the meantime, staff will go through the damage and await new information.

Murphy hopes the addition can be completed with help from the community.

Howley Mayor Calvin Samms said the fire department doesn’t only have council’s support, but the support of the entire community.

“We’re waiting to hear (from the insurance companies), but whatever we can do for the fire department in the meantime, we’ll do,” he said.

The labour on the building was being provided by the firefighters and residents, all of whom had been volunteering their time.

Samms said he hopes that generosity will continue when the extension is eventually rebuilt.

The Western Star

Organizations: Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro

Geographic location: Western Star

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  • California Pete from NFLD
    January 30, 2014 - 13:05

    I would look for a new architect and have an other building inspector to see if it meets code