St Catharines Standard Newspaper/Fort George
- The Fort is Fine the staff had a "normal?" operating day on Saturday
and the visitors that were evacuated on Friday were invited back
Saturday free of charge.We got to the Fort at 5pm Friday night for a
Staff Volunteer appreciation Dinner and the last of the fire crew was
leaving.The NOTL volunteer fire fighters reached the Fort in about 8
ST CATHARINES STANDARD
By George, there's a fire in the roof
Local News - Saturday, September 03, 2005 @ 01:00
Last time around, it was the Americans who torched Fort George,
razing it with glowing hot cannon balls nearly 200 years ago.
This time, it appears to have been British and Canadian soldiers or
at least people dressed like them who set part of the fort alight.
The wooden roof of a barracks building at the national historic site
caught fire Friday afternoon, forcing fort staff to evacuate all
The fire which was quickly contained is believed to have been
started by a spark from a mortar cannon fired by park staff dressed
in period military costumes during an artillery demonstration, said
"Some of the debris from the shot seems to have drifted from the wind
and ignited on the cedar shingles," Niagara-on-the-Lake Fire Chief
Ken Eden said as firefighters used axes to cut away parts of the
Firefighters arrived at the scene within minutes and were able to
extinguish the blaze before it spread from the roof to the interior
of the two-storey, wooden building.
"There doesn't appear to be any structural damage," said Eden.
Ron Dale, Parks Canada superintendent of Niagara national historic
sites, was enjoying his vacation when he received a call about the
fire from staff at the fort.
He arrived a few minutes later from his Niagara-on-the-Lake residence
to find firefighters dousing the flames.
"I'm so happy they were able to respond so quickly and get things put
out," said Dale.
The cause of the fire won't be known conclusively until there is
further investigation, but Dale acknowledged the artillery
demonstration may be to blame.
"Everything is so tinder dry.... That's why we think it's a
possibility," he said, noting it was also extremely windy.
The building known as Blockhouse 3 is designed as a barracks and
storehouse. Currently, it's used solely by staff and contains offices
and changing rooms.
All buildings except one at Fort George are replicas built in the
1930s of the original fort, which was constructed by the British
between 1796 and 1799.
The fort was demolished by the Americans during the War of 1812.
American artillery batteries bombarded the fort with fiery
cannonballs called hot shots on May 25, 1813, burning the wooden
structures to the ground.
The only building to survive the attack was the heavily reinforced
powder magazine, which still stands today.
"We made the comment that if we'd had the Niagara-on-the-Lake fire
department back then, maybe we'd still have all the original
buildings," said Dale.
An estimate to repair the damaged portion of the building's roof
wasn't known Friday.
The fort was expected to be open for its usual visiting hours,