Two major fires in North Dundas this month demonstrated what can happen when community-minded people come together to help each other. On November 6, a large shed and trailer blaze on the western edge of South Mountain brought a response from the South Mountain and Winchester fire departments, among others. Firefighters from the nearby South Mountain station were on the scene quickly, but not before many members of the community who noticed the smoke and rushed to the scene.
By the time the firefighters were at work putting out the blaze, dozens of community members were parked in the parking lot of Nationview Public School, likely satisfying a combination of curiosity and a desire to help a neighbour. No injuries were reported, and a house on the same lot appears to have been spared any major damage. The frame of the shed remains, although irreparably burned, but the trailer was completely leveled by the fire.
Another fire, on November 10, drew as many as 24 volunteer firefighters to a farm outside of Chesterville. Firefighters responded to a corn dryer fire on Nation Valley Road, and worked for most of the day to stop the fire from spreading. Like the South Mountain fire, no injuries were reported and the fire was contained, thanks to the tireless efforts of the firefighters.
Social media posts were overwhelmingly positive regarding the response to the Chesterville fire, as concerned neighbours had stopped to check in, showing good community spirit. A local business – Louis Restaurant in Chesterville – also received commendation from the Township of North Dundas and from countless locals for providing free pizza for the firefighters as they worked to get the situation under control. The farmer who owned the affected corn dryer posted a heartfelt message on social media, thanking, not only the local fire departments, but also many neighbours who stopped in to offer assistance, including some who lent needed equipment and stayed around throughout the day. The Times could not reach the farmer for comment.
Large fires don’t occur often in small communities, but when they do, they can leave a heavy mark. The building that housed the once famous King’s Pizza Restaurant in South Mountain was completely destroyed by a fire on August 1 which drew a response from several fire departments. Over three months later, the lot remains fenced off and covered in rubble, presenting an unpleasant image in the centre of the small village of South Mountain.
The Times reached out to Calvin Pol, Director of Planning, Building, and Enforcement for the Township of North Dundas, to ask about by-laws that govern the cleanup of lots affected by fire damage. Director Pol referred the Times to By-law No. 20-2012 which provides a 30-day deadline for the cleanup of burned, partially burned, or demolished material after a fire. However, there is a catch. “Factors such as an Ontario Fire Marshal investigation could delay cleanup,” Calvin told the Times. It is unclear whether such an investigation is ongoing at the old King’s Pizza location.
Brandon Mayer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The North Grenville Times