Firefighters in a coastal Labrador town had little choice but to watch the community's only hotel burn to the ground Monday because of the danger that propane tanks used for the hotel's kitchen could explode.
"There was nothing the fire department could do, they were totally helpless, because of the dangers from the explosions," said Rosetta Holwell, the mayor of Cartwright.
The fire at the Cartwright Hotel was discovered about 6 a.m.
Nearby houses, a gas station and the town's medical clinic were evacuated as a precaution.
The temporary closure of the clinic meant that emergency services were relocated to the Anglican church hall.
Although the propane tanks did not explode, Holwell said the firefighters' ability to do more at the fire scene was also hampered because of their equipment.
"Basically, we have a really old fire truck that needs to be replaced and no money in the town to replace it with," said Holwell.
The hotel includes about 20 guest rooms and other amenities, including a restaurant and meeting rooms.
Holwell said 10 to 12 people worked there, and the hotel owners hired extra people during the summer fishing and hunting season.
"Our deputy mayor has been working there for 20 years," said Holwell.
"It's a major, major employer," she said.
Holwell added that the hotel had been a gathering area for locals and tourists.
"There's no other lounge area, no other dining room area in town," said the mayor. "There's no other conference centre in town, you know, meeting place, so it had major repercussions for employment and services in this town."
Holwell said the owner told her that he is planning on rebuilding the hotel.