Deputy Fire Chief Wayne Deaves said on behalf of the department that all the members really feel for Chief Bill Abbott and his family, whose business Abbott & Haliburton Home Hardware Centre and The Upper Level was lost to a fire on Monday.
“It was an emotional one, especially since Bill is not only our fire chief but also a good friend of mine and the firefighters,” he said.
Deaves, who lives in Cape St. George, said some of his firefighters were already inside when he arrived and they were trying to find the location of the fire through thick smoke on the first floor.
Firefighters also got an upstairs door open but were also met by thick smoke.
Deaves said when things started to blow up inside the building he called for the firefighters go into defensive mode for their safety and fight the fire from outside. It wasn’t long before the flames started to spread helped along by fairly strong northerly winds.
He put out a call for mutual aid help from area fire departments and it wasn’t long before the Kippens Fire Department was on the scene, locating at the back of the building and protecting a nearby home.
Firefighters from Cape St. George attended and after the call for more water, Stephenville Fire Department personnel, along with a truck were on the scene in short order.
Deaves said a problem they encountered is they didn’t have hydrant water nearby and that trucks had to return to Port au Port East to refill. They ran a line to pump water out of nearby Abbott’s Pond but that didn’t last too long as the line began to plug up with mud.
Protecting the surrounding structures became their priority and firefighter personnel stayed late into Monday night before leaving the property.
The property was being guarded on Monday with RCMP personnel on hand and investigators expected in to try and determine the cause.
Abbott and his wife Christa were in Ontario on a business trip at the time of the fire and got home in the early morning hours of Tuesday morning.
While he wasn’t prepared to speak to the media on Tuesday afternoon, he said he would do so today.