Fire damage to Yarmouth County wharf concerns skippers

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Fire damage to Yarmouth County wharf concerns skippers

A fire on the wharf on Town Point Road in Yarmouth County, N.S., has people who live around there worried about their future.

The Gail's Force, a lobster fishing vessel, went up in flames about five minutes after tying up early Tuesday afternoon.

"Once she caught, she caught and there was no stopping it," said Corey Atkins, a fish buyer on the wharf.

Atkins said when he saw the fire, he ran outside and started moving vehicles away from the smoke and flames and untying anything that was tied to the wharf.

"I couldn't see a foot in front of me," Atkins said.

Damaged wharf

Six boats tie up on the Town Point Road wharf near Chebogue.

It's a small wharf, but the skippers who call this their base won't want to leave, Atkins said.

"When you've worked here for a while, you're not going to be easily kicked out. You're going to want to come back," Atkins said.

That'll be up to engineers to decide.

The section of the L-shaped wharf that was damaged by the fire was built in 1983.

When the tide is out, you can see where the creosote-soaked timber frame sits on the sandy bed.

'It's not really safe right now'

Jake MacLeay, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans area manager for small craft harbours in southwest Nova Scotia, said it's an "unfortunate situation."

"It's not really safe right now," MacLeay said. "We want to see exactly what the damage is before we make an assessment on how we move forward."

Engineers will inspect the bridge and make that call.

Either way, it won't be a cheap fix.

DFO owns the wharf but leases it to the local harbour authority.

The authority collects fees from the fishermen, which covers most maintenance.

If it's to be rebuilt, however, MacLeay said DFO will pay for it.

"It's not an insurable thing," MacLeay said. "Basically, we'll have to look at it and if it does get repaired it's basically take it out and rebuild it in the same footprint.

"It's a high structure with a lot of tide. Hard to say a number but it's not too cheap."

'I hope they don't tear it down'

Atkins is hopeful it'll be repaired.

"I hope they don't tear it down," he said. "I hope there's a way they can repair it."

Randy Purdy said he doesn't know what caused the fire in his fibreglass vessel, but figures it was likely electrical. He said he was spending his day Wednesday trying to find a replacement boat and a place to tie it up.

There is some space on the undamaged section of the wharf where two or three boats could tie up.

On Wednesday, a pumper truck was called in to suck any remaining fuel out of the Gail's Force before it's hauled away.

"He's a really good fisherman," Atkins said about Purdy. "A good man. Just terrible to see this."