Historic Saint John lighthouse destroyed by overnight fire
THE CANADIAN PRESS
Published Wednesday, June 14, 2017 1:16PM ADT
Last Updated Wednesday, June 14, 2017 7:03PM ADT
SAINT JOHN, N.B. -- A New Brunswick lighthouse almost as old as Confederation has been destroyed by a fire.
The Saint John fire department says it was notified of the blaze at the Swift Point Lighthouse on the St. John River in the city's Green Head area around 10 p.m. Tuesday.
Division chief Mark Wilson says the site is remote and required firefighters to trek into the woods on foot with their gear for a couple kilometres.
"It was challenging getting water into it because it was a long, old dirt road with heavy brush and forest," said Wilson in a phone interview Wednesday.
Wilson said by the time officials arrived on scene, the Canadian Coast Guard-owned lighthouse -- a white four-sided tapered structure with a red top -- had collapsed.
"They tried to get some pumps brought in, but by the time they got everything in, the structure fell in on itself," said Wilson. "So at that point their attention turned to protecting the wooded area."
He said the cause of the fire is under investigation.
The federal Fisheries Department said the lighthouse was an active navigational aid. It said the coast guard has issued a notice to mariners notifying them of the outage.
The website lighthousefriends.com says the Swift Point lighthouse -- also known as the Green Head lighthouse -- was one of six beacons erected in 1869 along the Saint John River between Fredericton and Saint John.
It says the lighthouse works in tandem with the Sand Point lighthouse to guide vessels along the St. John River and navigate the narrow entrance to the Reversing Falls, caused by the powerful tides of the Bay of Fundy.
The website says the lighthouse caught fire in 1872, forcing the suspension of the light for a few nights.