County garage damaged in early-morning fire
An OPP officer secures the area outside a large garage after fire destroyed a snowplow and damaged several pieces of snow removal equipment in the County of Simcoe facility near Beeton early Tuesday morning. Mark Wanzel /The Barrie Examiner/ QMI
The Office of the Fire Marshal (OFM) is investigating a Tuesday morning blaze at the Simcoe County roads department garage outside Beeton.
There were no injuries, but one snowplow — valued at $200,000 — was destroyed and five other snow-removal vehicles, including a grader and a front-end loader, were damaged to varying degrees.
No estimate is available yet for damage to the building and the vehicles.
The facility, which includes a garage, mechanical bay and offices, was constructed at a cost of approximately $1.9 million — along with about $360,000 for noise attenuation barriers — and had only been open for two months, according to Christian Meile, the county's director of transportation maintenance.
The facility is located on County Road 1, two kilometres west of Beeton.
Meile said preliminary indications are the fire started in one of the vehicles, but that will be determined by fire investigators.
OFM officials were on scene Tuesday and will return on Wednesday.
"We don't exactly know when it started," Meile said. "It was discovered at 6 a.m. by one of our (road) patrollers. All he could see was smoking coming out the vents. It was pretty thick and pretty black."
No one else was in the building at the time.
"The main part of the damage is limited to the garage bay," he said, adding it could be up to six months before it can be used again. "Hopefully we can use the mechanical bay and the offices within a week's time."
There will be no effect on service as a result of the fire, and crews will be prepared for whatever snow was to move into the area Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, Meile said.
County crews will be operating out of the Creemore garage.
"People on the roads won't know the difference. We have contingency plans in the event of things like this," he said. "We have spare vehicles from across the county that will be brought here and local contractors getting themselves ready."
Meile said to his knowledge the building's smoke alarms were working. "But there'd be no one here to hear them. I'm sure that's something the fire marshal's office will look at."