Volunteer grateful for quick response after small fire at Middleton Railway Museum

A fire broke out inside the Middleton Railway Museum in Middleton, N.S., late Friday. (Ian Swinamer - image credit)
A fire broke out inside the Middleton Railway Museum in Middleton, N.S., late Friday. (Ian Swinamer - image credit)

A small fire broke out inside the main building of a train museum in Middleton, N.S., late Friday.

Fire crews from Middleton, Lawrencetown, Kingston, Nictaux and Aylesford were called to the Middleton Railway Museum on School Street just after 10 p.m. AT.

Middleton fire Chief Mike Toole said the building has been undergoing renovations. He said the blaze was contained to a small room at the front of the building that was being restored.

He said the fire appears to have started in a garbage can.

He called it a "close call."

He said the fire was "small and contained" and that local fire departments were "there within minutes and gained entry through the door and put the fire out."

Ian Swinamer
Ian Swinamer

No cause has been determined, but Toole said the fire doesn't appear to be suspicious because the doors were locked and there were no signs of forced entry.

Barbara Nutley Hunter, a volunteer on the museum's board of directors, said she's grateful for the firefighters and police who responded, and the people who called in the fire.

She said she was relieved when she learned the fire had been put out within minutes.

"It was a horrible thing to envision," she said. "All of the work that has been put in, we didn't know where in the building the fire was, which doesn't really matter, but there's a great deal of work that's been done."

She said they could've lost valuable artifacts in the operators' room or the scale layout of the railway if the fire had spread.

"Before you get there and you know what's going on, you're just scared, just really terrified that you're going to find that some of that amazing stuff that is irreplaceable has been damaged."

Nutley Hunter said the fire did break some of the recently restored windows that had just been installed, and damaged the newly plastered walls in the waiting room. There is some smoke and water damage, she said.

"The timing is terrible," she said. "I mean, there's never a good time to have a fire, but when you've just finished fixing things up, it always seems … just really unfortunate."

She said the damage shouldn't cause a major disruption to programming.

"We may not be able to open as many parts of the building to visitors as we had hoped, but there will still be a lot for people to see outdoors, as well as in the western part of the building."

Toole said it was lucky the museum was saved.

"People keep a pretty good eye on the train station," he said. "It's been a very well-received building in the last a while with the new trains and a great board of directors that are there rebuilding the place and painting and they're doing lots of work to it.

"So, it was great somebody noticed it and called right away."