From Peterborough This Week newspaper:

Talk about a hectic night for Smith-Ennismore-Lakefield firefighters.

The volunteer department tackled two early morning blazes Monday, one following right after the other.

Fire chief Gord Jopling says his crew of 50 to 55 firefighters stuck it out, fighting off fatigue while dousing blazes at a renovated schoolhouse on Brick Road as well as a home on Arnott Drive.

Nothing could be done to save either structure, he adds.

"About 15 years ago, with the same weather conditions, we had two chimney fires, one after another," says Chief Jopling when asked about the last time firefighters responded to back-to-back blazes.

The first call came in around 1:30 a.m. after a resident living on the south side of Chemong Lake noticed a structure on the other side of the lake fully engulfed in flames.

Firefighters saw the flames from the residence on Arnott Drive near Gifford's Drive as they crossed the causeway.

The tenant had left for work but a cat and a snake died in the fire.

"All we could do was a defensive attack to keep the cedar trees from burning," says Chief Jopling.

The home was destroyed, causing $160,000 to $200,000 damage.

Chief Jopling says the cause was "probably electrical by nature."

Most of the firefighters were heading back to the Bridgenorth hall when the second fire call for Brick Road came in around 3:45 a.m.

Chief Jopling adds a tanker and pumper were still at the Arnott Drive address.

"All I said was 'Here we go again,'" says Chief Jopling.

It took about five minutes for the chief to arrive on the scene where five firefighters were already unloading hoses.

"It was the fastest night response we've had because the guys were already on the road," Chief Jopling adds.

Again there was nothing crews could do to save the structure -- a renovated schoolhouse built in the 1850s.

That building had a history not only steeped in education but also for police activity, says Chief Jopling.

Ten years ago, police busted a marijuana grow operation inside the former school.

Two adults were inside the building at the time of the fire but managed to escape. They have two daughters but both were staying at a friend's house for the night.

Chief Jopling says the fire was extremely hot, fueled by aged wood and sawdust insulation. He adds a backhoe was used to knock down the walls to completely extinguish the flames.

Damage is estimated at $160,000 to $180,000. The cause was improper dumping of ashes outside the building.

"The wind blew the ashes into the house. All it takes is one little thing to start a fire. It was completely accidental," explains Chief Jopling.