Howley’s fire department suffered a setback last weekend when high winds destroyed the addition to its fire station. Fire Chief Derek Murphy said it looks like most of the materials are still useable, but contruction may not restart until the sping. On Sunday the town experienced winds of up to 120 km/h.
HOWLEY — Nearly two years to the day after high winds caused major damage to Howley’s main fire station, the winds struck again.
This time it damaged the new addition being constructed, which was only about one-third complete.
The extension was supposed to house a newly donated service vehicle for rescue and support.
The large truck, recently donated by NL Hydro, was too large for the existing garage bays, creating the need for the extension.
Last Sunday, Howley experienced what fire Chief Derek Murphy called, “a windstorm unlike anything the area has seen for quite a while,” which completely destroyed the extension. A pile of pre-fabricated wood pieces and joists now sit on a concrete foundation that Murphy said probably won’t be completed until the spring.
“Or when it gets warmer, anyway,” said Murphy. “We’ll dismantle it, see what’s there that’s salvageable and start over again. That’s all we can do.”
The materials for the extension were paid for through a $13,000 provincial grant, which Murphy said included the condition that the project be completed within a certain time frame.
Fortunately, he said, the community has been released from that time frame, but will still have the chore ahead to fix it again.
That may not happen until April or May, Murphy said.
In January 2012, high winds caused severe damage to the roof of the fire station building, which was fixed using sheet metal and bolts. The building was part of the railroad, and there are still visible rails on the floor through the building.
But the new addition is completely flattened.
“When Mother Nature decides she’s going to flatten something, there’s not really much we can do about it,” Murphy said. “This is disappointing.”
Assessments are currently being performed, with calls going out to insurance companies. In the meantime, staff will go through the damage and await new information. Murphy hopes the addition can be completed with help from the local community. Howley Mayor Calvin Samms said the fire department doesn’t only have council’s support, but the support of the entire community.
“We’re waiting to hear (from the insurance companies), but whatever we can do for the fire department in the meantime, we’ll do,” he said.
The labour on the building was being provided by the firefighters and local residents, all of whom had been volunteering their time.
Samms said he hopes that generosity will continue when the extension is eventually rebuilt.