Blaze destroys colony’s shop


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It will take years to replace the decades of amassed tools and carpentry odds and ends destroyed by an overnight fire on the Deerboine Hutterite Colony, says its minister.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 26/11/2010 (4567 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

It will take years to replace the decades of amassed tools and carpentry odds and ends destroyed by an overnight fire on the Deerboine Hutterite Colony, says its minister.

The colony, located just north of Alexander off of Highway 250, lost its carpentry shop to a blaze that broke out inside the building early Thursday morning. The fire destroyed the building and all its contents, colony minister Tom Hofer said.

“It’s totalled. It’s right down to the ground.”

Tim Smith / Brandon Sun Members of the Deerboine Hutterite Colony watch as firefighters contain a blaze in the colony's carpentry shop.

The colony’s own fire department tried to fight the blaze after members awoke around 3:30 a.m. to find the shop ablaze, but the Rivers-Daly Fire Department was soon called in. Help was also sought from the nearby Souris River Hutterite Colony.

Rivers-Daly Fire Department chief Dennis Jahns said it became clear soon after they arrived on scene at approximately 4:30 a.m. that they simply would not have enough water to save the building.

“We just tried to knock it down and we just knew we weren’t going to do it with the amount of water that we had,” he said. “So, we just backed off and did an offensive and protected the buildings around it.”

“We just kept the windows and the doors closed to try to contain it. It’s not worth anybody getting hurt for, or even killed, for a fire like this,” added Hofer. “We said, ‘don’t take any unnecessary risks.'”

Although the carpentry shop did not provide the colony’s main source of revenue, it will be tough to maintain its day-to-day operations without the decades of collected contents, he said.

“It will set us back. You can’t lose a building like that and not be set back. All the tools and everything that you need in carpentry… it will take years and years to replace those tools that were burnt. We’ll replace the necessary, every-day tools in a hurry, but there are so many little things in there… until you need them, you won’t know, and then you’ll remember, ‘Oh, it burned in the shop.'”

The wooden structure, originally a train depot that the colony moved on site at least 50 years ago, had a wood-burning stove inside.

However, the fire’s cause or estimated cost of damage won’t likely be known until insurance officials sort through the remains of the building, he said.

The shop stood about 25 metres away from the colony’s mechanical shop and a mere 50 metres away from its living quarters, but no other building was damaged by the fire and no one was injured during the blaze.

The colony’s residences were evacuated as a precaution and the 80 members went right to work, lending their hands wherever they could, Hofer said. The colony’s women even provided an early breakfast of coffee, grilled cheese sandwiches and cookies for those helping out.

“Everybody was up all night,” he said. “Everybody was just pitching in. The whole colony is like a family. Where one helps, they all help. There was nobody there that didn’t just lay in and do whatever was required.”

The colony already has plans to rebuild the shop and will use other space in the interim for its carpentry requirements.


— Brandon Sun

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