Top News

Trinity Bay community devastated by plant fire


NORMAN'S COVE-LONG COVE, N.L. — For hours, he watched helplessly as fire completely destroyed his town’s fish plant. Then, it was too much to take for Terry Reid.

“I came home, sat down at the table, put my head down and I screeched my heart out,” he said.

The Norman’s Cove-Long Cove fish plant went up in flames Thursday night, leaving hundreds in the small community in shock and out of work.

The blaze broke out at around 9 p.m., when a nearby transformer caught fire.

Reid was manager of the Dorset Fisheries plant and had just left the plant about an hour before. Before he did, he said, he walked around and checked everything before heading home for the day.

“Everything was fine. Not a thing wrong,” he said.

He wasn’t home long when one of the cleanup crew members called to tell him something was wrong because the power in the plant was coming on and off.

“I figured it was just one of the fuses,” Reid said.

By the time Reid ate supper and showered, his phone rang again, this time telling him the building was on fire. He immediately rushed back.

“I never even dried myself off,” he said.

When Reid got there, there were flames shooting out of the eaves. Within five minutes, he said, the entire building was engulfed in flames.

“Just like that, she was gone,” Reid said.

“There was nothing anybody could do, even the fire department. No amount of water was going to stop it.”

It was difficult for Reid to put into words just how heart-wrenching the loss has been for people of the area.

“I’m working here 30 years now and I worked hard to try to look after the people there, making sure they got enough work,” the 54-year-old said.

“This was a lot of people’s livlihood. It’s really devastating.”

Reid said about 240 people worked at the plant - from around the province, but mostly from the area - and it was a busy time of the year, with caplin season.

“I don’t know where we go from here,” he said. “We’ll have to wait and see, I guess. It’s too soon to tell. Everybody is hurting from this.”

No one more than Norman’s Cove-Long Cove fire chief Gary Rideout.

When Rideout spoke to The Telegram Thursday afternoon, he had been awake 19 hours.

“Yeah, I’m pretty exhausted. We haven’t stopped,” said Rideout, “but I’ll be here for a few more hours yet.”

Rideout said when he arrived at 9 p.m. Thursday, there was fire coming out from under the eaves.

“It literally went up in minutes,” he said. “We didn’t even have time to get the water set up at that point when it burst on one side.”

Rideout said they knew it would be a tough fire to fight because of the compressed gases in the building, like propane and amonia.

That’s why they called in help from volunteer fire departments in Long Harbour, Whitbourne, Chance Cove and Bellevue.

He said the primary thing at first was protecting the boats left at the dock. Then, working their way down the wharf, they did what they could do to try and control the fire.

Getting 50 fire fighters working together was a tough task too, he said.

“But they were fabulous,” Rideout said of the fire fighters. “Everybody just clicked. (The firefighters from the other towns) were certainly a great help to us.”

He said he finally told fire fighters from the other communities to go home when they got the fire under control at around 4:30 a.m.

“A lot of these towns don’t have back-up fire fighters, so we wanted to get them back to their towns as soon as possible,” he said.

Rideout said one thing they had in their favour was that there was a southerly wind blowing Thursday night, which meant the heavy smoke and flames were blowing out the bay, towards the water.

Rideout said fight fighters will stay at the scene, as there are still flareups. They plan to bring in a back hoe to get to some of the deep areas of the rubble they’re finding it difficult to reach.

He said employees of NL Hydro on presently on site to remove a pole which was deemed to be in a dangerous spot.

Rideout said the investigation into the fire has begun. Government officials are on the scene assessing the damage.

He said this is a fire many people won’t soon forget.

“I’ve been at this almost 30 years and when you train, you’re usually dealing with residential areas, but I haven’t dealt with a large structure fire like this before,” he said.

“It was a tough one to take ... for a lot of people.”

It was the second major fire at a large fish plant in this province in the last three months.

In April, a blaze destroyed a Quinlan Brothers fish plant in Bay de Verde, leaving up to 700 people out of work.

 

rmullaley@thetelegram.com

 

Earlier story

Long Cove fish plant destroyed by fire

The fish plant in Long Cove caught fire Thursday night and is possibly completely destroyed, according to multiple reports of witnesses on social media as well as the RCMP.

A video of the fire provided by resident Alisha Reid showed massive flames erupting from the structure.

The Whitbourne RCMP also asked people to stay away from Beach Road area where the fish plant is located. This was for the safety of onlookers and to allow firefighters to continue firefighting operations.

More details will be provided as they become available.

“I came home, sat down at the table, put my head down and I screeched my heart out,” he said.

The Norman’s Cove-Long Cove fish plant went up in flames Thursday night, leaving hundreds in the small community in shock and out of work.

The blaze broke out at around 9 p.m., when a nearby transformer caught fire.

Reid was manager of the Dorset Fisheries plant and had just left the plant about an hour before. Before he did, he said, he walked around and checked everything before heading home for the day.

“Everything was fine. Not a thing wrong,” he said.

He wasn’t home long when one of the cleanup crew members called to tell him something was wrong because the power in the plant was coming on and off.

“I figured it was just one of the fuses,” Reid said.

By the time Reid ate supper and showered, his phone rang again, this time telling him the building was on fire. He immediately rushed back.

“I never even dried myself off,” he said.

When Reid got there, there were flames shooting out of the eaves. Within five minutes, he said, the entire building was engulfed in flames.

“Just like that, she was gone,” Reid said.

“There was nothing anybody could do, even the fire department. No amount of water was going to stop it.”

It was difficult for Reid to put into words just how heart-wrenching the loss has been for people of the area.

“I’m working here 30 years now and I worked hard to try to look after the people there, making sure they got enough work,” the 54-year-old said.

“This was a lot of people’s livlihood. It’s really devastating.”

Reid said about 240 people worked at the plant - from around the province, but mostly from the area - and it was a busy time of the year, with caplin season.

“I don’t know where we go from here,” he said. “We’ll have to wait and see, I guess. It’s too soon to tell. Everybody is hurting from this.”

No one more than Norman’s Cove-Long Cove fire chief Gary Rideout.

When Rideout spoke to The Telegram Thursday afternoon, he had been awake 19 hours.

“Yeah, I’m pretty exhausted. We haven’t stopped,” said Rideout, “but I’ll be here for a few more hours yet.”

Rideout said when he arrived at 9 p.m. Thursday, there was fire coming out from under the eaves.

“It literally went up in minutes,” he said. “We didn’t even have time to get the water set up at that point when it burst on one side.”

Rideout said they knew it would be a tough fire to fight because of the compressed gases in the building, like propane and amonia.

That’s why they called in help from volunteer fire departments in Long Harbour, Whitbourne, Chance Cove and Bellevue.

He said the primary thing at first was protecting the boats left at the dock. Then, working their way down the wharf, they did what they could do to try and control the fire.

Getting 50 fire fighters working together was a tough task too, he said.

“But they were fabulous,” Rideout said of the fire fighters. “Everybody just clicked. (The firefighters from the other towns) were certainly a great help to us.”

He said he finally told fire fighters from the other communities to go home when they got the fire under control at around 4:30 a.m.

“A lot of these towns don’t have back-up fire fighters, so we wanted to get them back to their towns as soon as possible,” he said.

Rideout said one thing they had in their favour was that there was a southerly wind blowing Thursday night, which meant the heavy smoke and flames were blowing out the bay, towards the water.

Rideout said fight fighters will stay at the scene, as there are still flareups. They plan to bring in a back hoe to get to some of the deep areas of the rubble they’re finding it difficult to reach.

He said employees of NL Hydro on presently on site to remove a pole which was deemed to be in a dangerous spot.

Rideout said the investigation into the fire has begun. Government officials are on the scene assessing the damage.

He said this is a fire many people won’t soon forget.

“I’ve been at this almost 30 years and when you train, you’re usually dealing with residential areas, but I haven’t dealt with a large structure fire like this before,” he said.

“It was a tough one to take ... for a lot of people.”

It was the second major fire at a large fish plant in this province in the last three months.

In April, a blaze destroyed a Quinlan Brothers fish plant in Bay de Verde, leaving up to 700 people out of work.

 

rmullaley@thetelegram.com

 

Earlier story

Long Cove fish plant destroyed by fire

The fish plant in Long Cove caught fire Thursday night and is possibly completely destroyed, according to multiple reports of witnesses on social media as well as the RCMP.

A video of the fire provided by resident Alisha Reid showed massive flames erupting from the structure.

The Whitbourne RCMP also asked people to stay away from Beach Road area where the fish plant is located. This was for the safety of onlookers and to allow firefighters to continue firefighting operations.

More details will be provided as they become available.

Recent Stories