Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Main Building at Historic Cape Breton Inn Burns to Ground in Early Morning Fire

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Main Building at Historic Cape Breton Inn Burns to Ground in Early Morning Fire

Article excerpt

Historic Cape Breton inn burns to ground

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BADDECK, N.S. - A devastating fire has levelled the main lodge of an historic, much-loved inn on Cape Breton's Bras d'Or Lakes, even as it spared a unique chapel bankrolled by a Toronto hockey legend.

"It's a devastating fire for the community," said Councillor Bruce Morrison, who said he got a call at about 3 a.m. notifying him of a "big fire" at the Inverary Resort.

"For me, it's tough -- it's one of those icons in our community that has been enjoyed by generations of residents in Baddeck."

The rustic retreat that has been a "cornerstone of the community" since it was built in the late 19th century by a Cape Breton man dubbed "Millionaire" MacNeil.

Plumes of white smoke were still wafting above the charred wreck of the three-storey building that housed the dining room, lobby, pub and several units attached to it in an addition.

A tiny brown chapel that was donated to the owners by legendary Toronto Maple Leafs owner Conn Smythe was not damaged in the fire, according to Cape Breton musician Keith Mullins, who entertains at the Inverary a few nights every week.

It's believed all of the guests and staff got out without injury.

Diana Weeks, a reporter for Ontario's CHCH TV, was staying at the resort and tweeted about her escape.

"Our hotel in Baddeck, N.S., is on fire and we're all outside in our pjs. Good news is, it appears everyone got out safely," Weeks tweeted overnight.

"So so sad. Just grateful we got out in time and grabbed our valuables... Such a beautiful historic building."

Images and video on social media showed flames consuming the building, which glowed orange in the darkness. One video shows the whole building collapsing in on itself as flames poured out of the windows.

Mullins said people had been singing and enjoying themselves late Wednesday: "Everything was amazing. We had a great time and everyone was singing."

He said he was devastated when he woke to hear the news.

Mullins said he had not heard what the owners plan to do, but believes they could remain in operation, because there are other guest rooms on the property.

"There are five or six large buildings. …

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