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August 6, 2001
(Tourism, Culture and Recreation)


Minister comments on fire at Cape Bonavista lighthouse

Kevin Aylward, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, today commented on the fire at the Cape Bonavista Lighthouse Provincial Historic Site which occurred Friday evening. The lighthouse was struck by lightning three times which ignited the fire.

"We are saddened that one of the most historically significant buildings in the province was damaged by this act of nature," said Aylward. "The Cape Bonavista Lighthouse is one of the premier tourist attractions in that region and has the highest visitation of all provincial historic sites. Over the past two years, major restoration work has been carried out to the lighthouse which was erected in 1843, and the work was scheduled to be completed at the end of the summer season. As result of the quick action of the staff and the local fire department, the fire was brought under control within minutes."

The staff on site used a cell phone to contact the Bonavista Fire Department as soon as they were aware of the fire. Firefighters were at the site within five minutes and had the fire under control. At this time it is believed the dome structure was not severely damaged. The important collection of artifacts had been removed prior to the commencement of the conservation work on the dome. The lightening strike did destroy the electrical system in the building and extensive damage occurred on the second floor and in the stairwell. Government is sending its team of conservators to assess the damage and determine how best to proceed with the clean up and necessary refurbishing. 

"I would like to extend my sincere thanks to the Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation staff who work at the lighthouse for their quick thinking and to the Bonavista Fire Department for their prompt action, both of which were instrumental in saving the building. It is our intention to keep the site and interpretation centre open to the public for the remainder of the visitor season." 

Media contact: Catherina Kennedy, Communications, (709)729-0928.

2001 08 06                                                    4:05 p.m. 

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