The community of Weymouth, N.S. is rallying together, after a fire extensively damaged one of the area’s biggest employers.
Firefighters cleared the scene about 20 hours after the Lewis Mouldings lumber plant went up in flames.
Crews from several counties were called to the plant at about 6:20 p.m. Tuesday when smoke could be seen coming from the facility, in southwestern Nova Scotia.
“I’d say by 9 o’clock, the whole back end was in flames and it was pretty obvious it wasn’t a pleasant scene,” said Terry Jacques, who lives around the corner from the plant.
Thanks to what residents are calling extraordinary teamwork, the structure has been mostly saved, but is extensively damaged. There were no injuries reported, and employees were able to save some of their lumber.
The business, which has been a part of the community for decades, employs about 100 people.
“This is a pretty resolute little part of the world here,” said Jacques.
“This is a very successful business from what I’ve heard, and I think it will be rebuilt and rebuilt better, so I’m not worried about that. It’s a hard hit now, but I think people will bounce back.”
Larry Viennot, the owner Weymouth Mercantile, opened his convenience store back up at around midnight to serve refreshments and feed the fire crews.
“Certainly it’s the least I could do. They’re our customers, our friends, our neighbours,” he said.
“It’s one of our major employers, if not the major employer right now. Small communities in Nova Scotia get hit hard and when something like this happens, it has a lasting effect.”
Floreen Brittain, who owns a nearby hair studio, worries how the fire will affect the community.
“A total devastation, everybody’s quite shocked or sad. It’s going to be a big impact, a lot of people was employed there,” she said.
The Weymouth Fire Department is still investigating the cause of the fire, but the blaze is not considered suspicious at this time.
Cpl. Chris Marshall, a spokesperson for the RCMP, said police believe the fire broke out in an area where dry wood is stored.
Residents say the community is resilient, and the business has the support of everyone.
“I’m hoping there will be a push on to have it rebuilt, and I know the ownership, and I’m sure they’re committed to the community, in fact I know they are,” said Viennot.
On Thursday, the Lewis family posted a message on the business’ Facebook page, thanking the firefighters for their efforts and the community for their support.
The family says they are looking to “what their next steps will be” but are committed to helping their staff.
“We know the stress and hardship this will have on many of you. We are so deeply sorry for the impact this will have on you and are doing all we can to help you through this and to move forward to better days as quickly as we can,” they wrote.