Suspicious fire quenched before reaching gunpowder in Nanaimo’s historic Bastion

Suspicious fire quenched before reaching gunpowder in Nanaimo’s historic Bastion

Probe underway in basement blaze that erupted near where powder stored to fire signature cannons

Nanaimo Fire Rescue crews extinguished a fire in the basement of the historic Bastion.

The alarm was sounded shortly before 12:30 p.m. Monday when smoke was seen coming from a doorway leading to the basement of the structure.

There were no reports of injuries, but the fire was set outside an area of the structure where gunpowder is stored for cannons that are fired at noon during the summer months and there was concern the fire could ignite the powder.

Jodi Le Masurier, Nanaimo Fire Rescue assistant chief, said there was concern about the gunpowder, but said the building is equipped with an automatic sprinkler system.

“We have what looks to be a suspicious fire at the back of the Bastion at the back door,” Le Masurier said. “That fire was able to breach through the walls and caused smoke damage to the rest of the building.”

Le Masurier said firefighters were able to quickly knock down the fire and clear the smoke from the building and Nanaimo RCMP were investigating. She did not have information about the extent of damage to the building or how the fire was started.

“There is what appears to be gunpowder stored in the basement, but it was not impacted by fire,” she said. “The crews got here quickly enough.”

Sophia Maher, Nanaimo Museum general manager, said the Bastion, normally open to visitors during the summer months, has been closed because of COVID-19 precautions.

“We weren’t going to be able to maintain social distance in there and keep it clean, given that it’s a historical wooden building, which would have been a bit too much of a challenge, so we’re not going to be opening it this summer,” Maher said.

The gunpowder stored in the building was removed following the fire, but Maher said what was stored there was a minimal amount and was stored according to fire and federal explosives regulations.

Vandalism, she said, has not been a major problem with the building and that damage to the building was “pretty minimal, all things considered.”

Front Street was closed between Bastion and Church streets while firefighters dealt with the blaze.

The Bastion fort, an iconic structure in Nanaimo, was built in 1853 by the Hudson’s Bay Company and is the last of the original free-standing HBC bastions.

READ ALSO: Crews deal with small fire next to Nanaimo’s historic Bastion



editor@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

fire

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Firefighters battled a blaze set in the doorway of Nanaimo’s historical Bastion on Monday. The fire worked its way into the interior of the structure and is being investigated as suspicious. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)

Firefighters battled a blaze set in the doorway of Nanaimo’s historical Bastion on Monday. The fire worked its way into the interior of the structure and is being investigated as suspicious. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)

Just Posted

Ben Maartman, pictured in his ‘farm office’ has been elected as Area H director. (Ben Maartman photo)
Ben Maartman declared Director of CVRD Area H

Maartman will be sworn in on December 8

Beautiful morning with the sun peaking through, as viewed from Thetis Island. (Photo by Kelly Bannister)
November characterized by a record high, no snow and plenty of rain in Chemainus region

Temperature almost hits the 20 degree Celsius mark on Nov. 4

Applications for the OCP Steering Committee can be dropped off at Ladysmith City Hall or emailed to info@ladysmith.ca. (File photo)
Town seeks community members for OCP steering committee

The deadline for applications is January 4, 2021, at 4 p.m.

Three Ladysmith Health Care Auxiliary Thrift Store volunteers have tested positive for COVID-19. (Ladysmith Health Care Auxiliary photo)
Three Ladysmith Health Care Auxiliary Thrift Store volunteers test positive for COVID-19

Anyone who volunteered at Thrift Store between Nov. 14 - Nov. 28 is asked to monitor for symptoms

Ben Maartman, left, and Murray McNab are running for regional director for Area H North Oyster-Diamond in a Cowichan Valley Regional District byelection later this month. (Photos submitted)
Preliminary Area H byelection results show Maartman up by seven votes, McNab to ask for recount

Results of the by-election to by finalized by noon on Tuesday, December 1

A tongue-in-cheek message about wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 on a sign outside a church near Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection count climbs back up to 656

20 more people in hospital, active cases still rising

Dave Wallace coached the Parksville Royals for 23 years. (PQB News file photo)
B.C. baseball community mourns death of legendary Vancouver Island coach Dave Wallace

‘All who knew Dave and his passion for the game will miss him greatly’

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. researchers launch study to test kids, young adults for COVID-19 antibodies

Kids and youth can often be asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus

A sign is seen this past summer outside the Yunesit’in Government office west of Williams Lake reminding visitors and members to stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
B.C. First Nation leaders await privacy commissioner decision on COVID-19 information

Release of life-saving data cannot wait, says coalition of First Nations

MLA Jennifer Whiteside is B.C.’s new minister of education. She is speaking out against Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld and asking him to resign. (Black Press)
New education minister calls on Chilliwack trustee to resign

Whiteside echoes former minister’s promise to look at options to remove Barry Neufeld

Peter Beckett. ~ File photo
Supreme Court of Canada to decide if it will hear appeal in 2010 wife murder trial

Peter Beckett has stood trial twice for murder in connection with the death of his wife, Laura Letts-Beckett

Tabor Home in Abbotsford. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
B.C.’s largest COVID-19 care-home outbreak records 19 deaths, 147 cases

Tabor Home in Abbotsford has been battling outbreak since Nov. 4

Most Read