By The Canadian Press
July 22, 2016, Whitbourne, N.L. - Firefighters were monitoring hotspots at a fish plant that burned to the ground late Thursday, dealing a major blow to the hundreds of people who work there.
Deputy fire Chief Corey Hudson said the plant in Norman's Cove-Long-Cove burned quickly after the fire was noticed at about 9 p.m., due possibly to a transformer catching fire and spreading to the main building.
''It's a total loss,'' he said Friday from the small community on Trinity Bay in eastern Newfoundland. ''It was fully enraged. There was no chance of saving the building.''
People in the area reported hearing an explosion before the fire started, but Hudson said the cause was still under investigation.
Mayor Barry Drake said he got a call at about 9:30 p.m. telling him that the community's main employer was ablaze. He said when he looked out, he ''saw a lot of fire.''
He said there were three buildings that made up the Dorset Fisheries plant, which was in the middle of one of its busiest periods with the processing of capelin. It also processed mackerel and herring.
Drake said about 200 people worked there at its peak times, employing many of the 800 residents of Norman's Cove-Long Cove.
''There's a lot of people depending on that plant for their hours,'' he said. ''There's a lot of sad people here and a lot of devastation, but the main thing is that nobody was hurt.''
Residents say smoke and flames could be seen from the surrounding area near the plant. Hudson said when fire fighters arrived on scene, they immediately called in help from neighbouring departments.
Dorset Fisheries plant manager Terry Reid told CBC that a transformer near the plant caught fire and within minutes the plant was burning.
Provincial government officials said Friday that they would visit the town to meet with municipal representatives and discuss ways to support the community.