Northeast Town public works garage goes up in flames

Over $750,000 in damages to building and equipment

LITTLE CURRENT-At 2:45 am Thursday morning, the Little Current Fire Department responded to a fire at the Northeast Town public works garage located on Gammie Street in Little Current (behind the recreation centre).

The building and several pieces of equipment were severely damaged with a preliminary estimate of over $750,000 in losses and damages.

“The cause of the fire is unknown at this time,” Northeast Mayor Al MacNevin told The Expositor Thursday morning, “however based on the fire damage, we do believe that the fire started in the workshop area of the building. Thankfully no one was hurt and work has begun to replace the curial pieces of equipment that were lost.”

Among the equipment lost was the Little Current snow plow, the trackless (used to plow and salt the side walks), steamers (used to clear frozen drains and culverts), several back up generators and numerous other small tools and pieces of equipment.

“The company we bought the trackless from has already sent one this morning for us to rent and in the interim we are using a Kubota with a blade to clean the sidewalks,” explained Mayor MacNevin. “As for the snow plow, we have already borrowed one of the three plows from the Sheguinadah garage to clear the Little Current roads and it is now back working on the rural roads. We have been very fortunate because both Central Manitoulin and Assiginack have offered to temporarily plow some of the rural roads bordering their municipalities, which will help us ensure that all the roads in the Northeast Town are kept clear.”

As for other damaged or destroyed equipment, Mayor MacNevin shared that the public works’ half ton and one ton pickup trucks were damaged, but at this point the town was unsure as to the severity.

“An (insurance) adjuster arrived from North Bay this morning and will be doing an initial evaluation, hopefully giving us permission to begin purchasing the items we need such as the snow plow,” said Mayor MacNevin. “Most things we will be able to rent until we can replace them, but some things we will have to purchase.”

“Another big issue is that all the drawing and records of (municipal) infrastructure and logs for equipment were lost in the fire,” the mayor continued. “Most of the recorders were scanned and filed on our computer system, but some things are irreplaceable.”

“The fire department and the public works staff did an amazing job and they managed to save the new backhoe, which was in a bay farthest from where we believe the fire started, as was the new garbage truck which was parked parallel to the building.”

The keys for the garbage truck were caught in the blaze, but the fire department kept the truck itself wet, preventing it from catching fire. The keys were also recovered this morning, and were able to start the big orange truck, much to public works employee Dave Draper’s relief.

“We are also grateful for the efforts of the members of the fire department who responded quickly to contain and extinguish the fire,” he added.

The public works staff will be using the old town office (on Manitowaning Road) as a temporary office, and Mayor MacNevin assures residents that services such as garbage pickup and snow removal will still be running, but there could be some delays.

robin@manitoulin.ca