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)

Just Posted

COVID-19: Modified beach volleyball a hit in Parksville

Organizer happy to get popular summer game going

Ballenas students help keep essential community services going

Club donates $1,000 to SOS Grateful Hearts campaign

Rebound recovery program helps more than 50 PQB businesses remain open

Nearly $90K in aid received through Oceanside Initiatives plan

B.C. records 146 new COVID-19 cases through long weekend

More that 28 people tested positive for the virus each day since Friday

Canucks tame Minnesota Wild 4-3 to even NHL qualifying series

J.T. Miller leads Vancouver with goal and an assist

COVID-19 vaccine efforts provide hope but no silver bullet to stop pandemic: Tam

There are more than two dozen vaccines for COVID-19 in clinical trials around the world

Two people die in propane heated outdoor shower near Princeton

Couple was attending a long weekend gathering

Racism in B.C. healthcare: Deadline for First Nations survey coming up on Aug. 6

Survey comes after hospital staff allegedly played a blood alcohol guessing game

‘We want to help’: As overdose deaths spike, beds lay empty at long-term Surrey rehab centre

John Volken Academy searching for ‘students’ to enlist in two-year residential treatment program

Study shines light on what makes LGBTQ+ youth feel safe in a community

The study goes beyond looking at school or family supports

Alberta to require masks at schools this fall, but still no mandate in B.C.

B.C. students are also set to return to classrooms in September

Most Read