An overnight fire has destroyed the only funeral home in Hampton, N.B.
Dyson Regular, the owner and manager of Reid’s Funeral Home, said he got a call around 3 a.m. Thursday that his business on Main Street was on fire.
He said it became quickly apparent that the fire was significant.
Funeral home staff worked with firefighters to remove the remains of people resting there, urns and other critical items.
He said everything of importance was saved and undamaged.
“It’s quite devastating, so obviously you get caught up in the moment,” Regular said of the fire. “But we felt better once we secured those items that’s not replaceable.”
Hampton Deputy Fire Chief Mike Raeburn said his crews were on scene shortly after 3 a.m.
“When we arrived, the flames were up through the roof,” Raeburn said. “We knew then that we were in for a battle because this whole building is like five buildings converted into one, so there’s like double walls and all that stuff you’ve got to deal with.”
Raeburn said about 60 firefighters from various area fire departments fought the blaze and had it knocked down in an hour. He said some crews remained at the scene until mid-morning.
He believes the building is “a total loss.”
According to the funeral home’s website, the home dates back to the 1800s and has operated under the Reid family name since 1950, when Cecil Reid took over the business. The home has been at its current location since 1967.
Reid’s son and daughter-in-law, Brock and Barbara Reid, took over the business and later gave way to Regular and his wife, Melissa, in 2013.
Martha Ruddick lived next door to the funeral home for seven years.
She said the home is an important landmark in the community where people have come to grieve and be together.
“Just the furniture, Cecil Reid’s information that’s in there,” Ruddick said, pausing from walking her dog to survey the damage. “A lot of memories. A lot of friends, unfortunately go through there, my mother’s funeral was there. Just a lot of memories.”
Regular said it’s too early to say if he will rebuild, as he is working with his insurance company in the aftermath of the blaze. He said his family operates two other funeral homes in neighbouring communities that can help meet the needs of Hampton-area families.
“Our goal right now is to do what we need to do to make the site look presentable,” Regular said. “So we’re in the process of making that happen with our insurance company.”
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
Raeburn said it is not suspicious.