1. #1
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    Default Fire damages historic Craigflower Manor

    Whew, it doesn't appear to be as bad as it sounded when some chick phoned in to the Q about the fire. As soon as I heard about it, I went to check the Times Colonist and lo & behold, there's already an article about it.

    Makes me realize I need to get off my butt and go see some of the historical treasures around here sooner rather than later.

    GREAT JOB, guys/gals!

    Fire damages historic Craigflower Manor


    By Rob Shaw, Victoria Times Colonist

    January 23, 2009 8:20 PM

    StoryPhotos ( 1 )

    Craigflower Manor, a national historic site, was damaged by fire Friday night. Jan. 23, 2009Photograph by: File, Times ColonistFirefighters saved one of British Columbia’s oldest buildings, the historic Craigflower Manor in View Royal, from being destroyed by fire Friday night.

    Caretakers of the farm house, built in 1853, credited quick work by fire crews for containing the flames to a hallway and kitchen on the bottom floor, saving priceless and irreplaceable artifacts from damage in the dining room and living room just metres away.

    “Absolutely they saved it,” said Bill Turner, executive director of the Land Conservancy, which manages the national historic site on behalf of the province. “The fire department has done a phenomenal job.”

    The two-storey log home at Admirals and Craigflower is one of the last remaining links to original settlement farms established by the Hudson’s Bay Company circa 1850s. It is the third oldest building in B.C. — only Helmcken House at the Royal B.C. Museum and Tod House in Oak Bay are older.

    But it was its modern-day fire alarm system that alerted crews to trouble around 5 p.m., said View Royal Fire Chief Paul Hurst.

    Heavy black smoke billowed out of the windows when firefighters from Colwood, Esquimalt and View Royal arrived. When crews kicked in the back door, a fireball shot out at them, he said.

    “They hammered it, pushed it back, and kept pushing,” said Hurst. “But when I rolled up and saw this thing was getting worse and worse I thought, 1853 and now it’s going to the ground.”

    Hurst praised firefighters for preventing the flames from entering the walls, where the fire would have traveled unimpeded to the attic and quickly engulfed the whole house.

    The source of the fire appears to have been a space heater under the stairs. The original building had no heating system.

    A damage estimate was not available, but local fundraising will likely be needed to repair the building, said Turner.

    rfshaw@tc.canwest.com

    © Copyright (c) The Victoria Times Colonist
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    September 11th - Never Forget

    I respect firefighters and emergency workers worldwide. Thank you for what you do.

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    RAY WAS HERE FIRST

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    Craigflower manor blaze will cost more than $100,000 to repair


    By Sarah Petrescu, Times Colonist
    January 24, 2009 4:01 PM

    StoryPhotos ( 1 )

    Volunteers Jennifer Iredale and Mike Hewison, and Ben Scott from the TLC removed debris from the fire at the Craigflower Manor.Photograph by: Adrian Lam, Times ColonistFire damage caused to the historic Craigflower Manor Friday night will cost more than $100,000 to repair but could’ve been much worse, said Ian Fawcett, deputy executive director of the Land Conservancy. The charity organization manages the national historic site on behalf of the province.

    “We were fortunate in the sense that the fire department acted so quickly and were sensitive to the significance of the site. There was very little water damage,” he said.

    The fire began around 5 p.m. in a storage closet under the main staircase. The blaze was likely caused by an electric heater that gradually heated and ignited the brittle wood inside a wall, said fire inspector Rob Marshall from the View Royal Fire Department, at the scene today.

    “The whole storage room is gutted and the stairs are toast but it could have been a lot worse,” Marshall said. “In the old days they made places like these with single walls that extended up both floors. A fire like this could’ve quickly [reached] the roof off.”

    Smoke damage was extensive throughout the heritage building, built in 1853 as a farm house and later used as a school house and museum before being acquired by the province in 1967.

    Craigflower Manor is the third oldest building in B.C. – Helmcken House at the Royal B.C. Museum and Tod House in Oak Bay are older – and is usually open to the public during the summer months.

    Fawcett is not sure if the building will be repaired in time to open this summer, “Or maybe the fire incident will become incorporated into the tour,” he said.

    The provincial government has insured the building, but he’s not sure to what extent and whether or not fundraising efforts will be needed to restore the original staircase. For now, staff are going through the building to assess the damage and salvage historic items.

    spetrescu@tc.canwest.com

    © Copyright (c) The Victoria Times Colonist
    September 11th - Never Forget

    I respect firefighters and emergency workers worldwide. Thank you for what you do.

    Sheri
    IACOJ CRUSTY CONVENTION CHAIR
    Honorary Flatlander

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    WELL DONE THE GUN CREWS! Great job on the save guys.

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    Firefighters recall in detail how they saved a landmark

    By Joanne Hatherly, Times ColonistJanuary 27, 2009

    When alarm bells rang at 110 Island Highway, View Royal Fire Chief Paul Hurst knew it was Craigflower Manor.

    "It's the one building that I hoped never to have to attend in my career," said Hurst who was born and raised in View Royal. He had seen the 156-year-old Craigflower nearly every day of his life.

    The alarm system at the building -- which was connected directly to the firehall -- dated to the 1960s, built to detect heat, not smoke, so Hurst knew the fire would already be well underway.

    By the time the bells rang at 5:09 p.m. Friday, View Royal's firehall had been closed for more than 30 minutes, but that day, firefighters Troy Mollin, Rob Marshall, Heath Bevan, Enzo Calla and Kyle Hawkins were still in the hall, some catching up on paperwork, others were in the weight workout room or unwinding on the station's Xbox. Normally, an after-hour call would go to a full-time patch and the firefighters would have been paged. That would have taken more time.

    But within a minute, the team was downstairs on this occasion, their exit hastened by a fire pole donated to the hall two years earlier by residents they had saved in earlier days, Margaret Horton and Florence Stewart.

    Before the installation of the pole, the firefighters would have had to run down the back steps.

    As Hurst later recounted, the seconds saved by the pole mattered.


    At 5:10 p.m., Marshall swung into the driver seat of Engine 38 with Mollin, Bevan, Calla and Hawkins on board. Hurst was behind them in the chief's truck.

    At 5:12 p.m., the first crew were running hoses to the house.

    Green-brown smoke leaked out from a rear second storey window near the centre hall, it's colour signalling the fire had not reached flashover. Posting himself at the northeast corner of the house, Hurst yelled for Mollin and Calla to go in.

    Mollin axed at the back door, plunging the blade next to the deadbolt until the door popped free of the jamb, exposing black smoke rolling down from the high ceiling to chest-level.

    The blaze gulped at the new air that poured in through the open door, drafting a fireball toward Mollin and Calla.

    Crouched low and armed with thermal imagers, Calla entered first, holding the hose nozzle with Mollin behind him. Past the kitchen, the men made out a red glow in the dark.

    Calla judiciously shot a spray of water into the ceiling above the glow. The water hit the heat and vaporized.

    "That causes the moisture to fall down to the fire and reduce the overall ambient heat, and takes away the flashover potential," Hurst later explained.

    Marshall, who was manning Engine 38's controls said, "In a flashover, it doesn't matter how many thermal layers you're wearing, you're toast."

    Calla then shot at the seat of the fire.

    "And it was over, the fire was out," Mollin said. It was 5:25 p.m., 16 minutes from when the alarm first rang.

    Hurst said Craigflower Manor's 1853 construction worked for and against it. It was built with no fire-protection between floors, as modern buildings are, and that means a fire could quickly engulf the entire structure.

    In its favour, however, its massive squared-log construction protected it from collapse, giving the firefighters extra minutes to get inside and attack the flames.

    Ian Fawcett, deputy executive director for The Land Conservancy, which manages the national historic site , said the fire apparently was caused by a failed fan in an in-wall heater that had been installed under the centre stairwell during one of the house's later upgrades. He said it is uncertain that repairs will be complete in time for Craigflower Manor to open in May as it has every year.

    Hurst said he will encourage TLC and the province to install a smoke-sensitive alarm system that would signal danger earlier.

    Fawcett agreed a review is in order. "This house was restored by the province in the 60s and there really hasn't been much changed since then," he said.

    As Bill Bennett, B.C.'s minister responsible for heritage, toured the house yesterday, he saw rooms in near pristine condition, furniture unscathed, plates and glasses sitting in order on the pantry shelves where just on the other side of the wall, the fire chewed down to the house's timbers.

    A melted candle in a second storey bedroom reveals how high the temperature had risen during the brief blaze.

    In the house's main halls, however, the fire's footprints can be seen. A pervasive smoke odour hangs in the air. Daylight seeps through a burned out staircase riser, dimly lighting the gap beneath where the heater had been. Blackened arbutus spindles and rails trace where the flames coiled upward, showing how close to conflagration the house was when Mollin and Calla doused the fire.

    Standing on Craigflower's front stoop, View Royal Mayor Graham Hill said, "This is a terrific save." Speaking of the building, he added, "This is where it started. This is where so much of our roots are."

    Noting that only one artifact, a painting, had been lost, Bennett praised the firefighters.

    "You guys did well," Bennett said. "No visibility, walking through a china shop. I'm surprised nothing more was damaged.

    Hurst accepted the accolades on behalf of the firefighters with pride. "This is a team. This community means something to every one of us, but I'd be totally remiss if I didn't mention the support we have from the mayor and council. The money they put to training and equipment, it's second to none."

    jhatherly@tc.canwest.com

    © Copyright (c) The Victoria Times Colonist
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    Last edited by MalahatTwo7; 01-28-2009 at 09:34 AM.

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