Damage to building at historic Fort La Tour site to be repaired, investigation into fire ongoing
SAINT JOHN, N.B. -- One day after a suspicious fire damaged a building at Saint John's historic Fort La Tour site; the organization behind the site's recent redevelopment is looking forward to the future.
According to the Fort La Tour Development Authority, they plan to rebuild thanks to insurance and support from the community.
Fire crews responded to the fire just after 2:30 a.m. on Wednesday. Officials say the damage to the building, which they are calling substantial, was contained to the entranceway of the fort and the smaller interpretation building where admissions take place.
Andrew Dixon, the vice-chair of the Fort La Tour Development Authority, surveyed the damage on Thursday.
"We've got the site shored up," said Dixon. "The roof is sealed up with OSB and tarp, so it's water tight. Things are cleaned up inside."
According to Dixon, quick work by firefighters kept the fire from spreading further. He says, given the type of wooden construction, the damage could have been much worse.
"The building that was damaged extensively even had cedar shingles, wood shingles on the roof, so the speed at which the fire could progress was alarming," explained Dixon.
Dixon says the fort has received no shortage of support following the fire, including from Saint John MP Wayne Long. Long pledges to advocate for federal funding to help the cost of repairs.
"It's a wonderful tourism asset for us," said Long. "One of the things as a community we have to be aware of, it's great to attract cruise ships here but when people get off the cruise ships, they need things of interest to go see."
The Saint John Police major crime unit is investigating the fire, which has been deemed suspicious.
They are asking anyone with information, or who was in the area between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. on Wednesday, to contact police or Crime Stoppers.
"Maybe someone just couldn't sleep, or had their dog out for a walk, may have snapped a picture, seen something that seemed unusual or uncharacteristic for that time of the morning. We just remind them to give us a call," said Jim Hennessy, a spokesperson with the Saint John Police.
Dixon says they are unsure when the historic site will reopen, but hope to be able to capture at least some of the summer tourism season this year.
Fort La Tour recently underwent a $1.8 million redevelopment to add replica buildings from the 1600s and was set to reopen in about three weeks.
The site dates back to the 1600s and the archeological site was designated a national historic site in 1923.