Historic Gore Bay building sustains damage in blaze

The Stonehouse Bed and Breakfast, one of the oldest standing buildings in Gore Bay, sustained extensive damage in a fire that took place last Thursday, March 25.

GORE BAY – One of the oldest buildings in the Town of Gore Bay sustained extensive damage due to a fire that took place Thursday, March 25. 

“The fire happened during renovations we were doing,” said Aly Beatty, owner of The Stonehouse Bed and Breakfast, located on Phipps street, beside the Gore Bay courthouse. She explained the fire started on the third floor of the building.

Mike Addison, fire chief of the Gore Bay volunteer fire department told the Recorder, “there was a lot of water damage due to the amount of water we had to put in the area of the fire on the third floor. But structurally, the building is still very sound. The biggest issue is that with a building like this there was a sloping roof and several crawl spaces with walls built behind them.”

“When we got there, we realized that we couldn’t get full access to the fire,” said Mr. Addison. “I had expected the worst situation, so I called the Billings township volunteer fire department to assist through mutual aid.”

“We doused the outside area of the house where the fire was located, with many of the roof shingles being knocked out and the water getting in to try and cool and put out the fire,” said Mr. Addison. “Then, some of the members of the fire crew went up to the third floor of the house (inside) and broke a hole in the wall. The fire had started in a very small closed off room and we were able to put water to it.”

“The owner of the house said renovations were being done with new drywall being put in when the fire started behind the wall in the small room. It was never visible outside. We knew there was a fire in the attic, but we didn’t know exactly where it was or how bad it was until some of the crew were able to break down the wall which was made of lathe and plaster.”

Mr. Addison noted, “this is a 141-year-old house, one of the oldest standing houses in Gore Bay.”
“I can’t release a cause for the fire yet, but it definitely was an accidental fire,” he said, explaining this is a three-storey building with a lot of small rooms and a very high, steep roof outside. “Our ladder wouldn’t reach it.”

The Gore Bay fire department responded to the blaze at 1 pm. It took about three hours to douse the fire.

“I asked the owner of the house and her family if they had a place to stay and she pointed out they could stay at her parents’ house,” said Mr. Addison. “After we got the fire under control, we escorted the owners back in to get what they needed. The couple has a young baby and the family definitely couldn’t stay in the house as there was a lot of water damage from the roof down to the main floor, as well as some smoke damage.”  

“I hope the insurance company comes through for the owners, the building is still structurally sound. Hopefully they have the option to repair,” said Mr. Addison. “I was told the building will be 141 years old this year. The Town of Gore Bay wasn’t even incorporated (April 7, 1890) when this building was constructed.”  

“The building was at one time the sheriff’s house and included the jail at one time. I even understand, back in the day, there were hangings held there,” said Mr. Addison. “There will be a lot of work that needs to be done on the building.”

Ms. Beatty confirmed that she had insurance on the house. She posted a message on Facebook last Thursday evening, “there was a ruckus in Gore Bay today and some of you might be wondering what happened and why the fire department went screeching through town. Our home and bed and breakfast had a fire today. I am happy to say we are all safe.”
“I’d like to thank the Gore Bay Fire Department and Billings Fire Department for acting quickly and saving our house,” wrote Ms. Beatty. “It’ll be a journey to get everything fixed up but we have our family safe and sound. That’s the important part. I’d also like to thank all the bystanders and neighbours who offered to help, being a part of a small community is a beautiful thing when tragedy strikes.”