Manitoba town mourns loss of century-old historic building destroyed in blaze
Beth Macdonell, CTV Winnipeg
Published Monday, January 18, 2016 9:06PM CST
A century-old historic building, nestled in a small Manitoba town, was reduced to rubble in a matter of hours Saturday night.
On the evening of Jan.16, fire ripped through the former hospital, now a private residence, in Glenboro, Man.; a rural community located about 80 kilometres southeast of Brandon.
“It was just a ball of red fire all of a sudden,” said Georgina Greenlay, who watched the flaming inferno from her bedroom window. “It was mind-boggling how fast it went up and how tremendous the flame was and how much there was.”
On Monday, fire still smoldered at the site of what once was the largest home in town.
Four fire departments from surrounding areas responded to the blaze, which at times seemed unstoppable.
"The fire was raging out of control and the heat from the fire was going to knock out the hydro to the hospital, personal care home and elderly persons complex," said Glenboro Fire Chief Steve Bjornson.
Firefighters were able to prevent that from happening, sparing 70 people from evacuating outside on a bitter cold night.
Bjornson said the homeowner is currently in Jamaica. He said a man maintaining the home was napping when the fire started; the man woke up coughing, saw flames coming up through the main floor, and managed to escape.
But the home, believed to have been built with white bricks from Alberta in 1900, won't escape destruction and will eventually be torn down.
The aftermath of the fire now leaves people like 94-year-old Ellen Rawlings with only memories of the home’s grandeur, and history as a hospital
"1951 my son was born there and it was busy in there. They would have seven babies there at one time," said Rawlings.
Others in the community also feel a sense of loss.
“It was a gorgeous old house and to lose something like that out of a small town is really heart-wrenching,” said Greenlay.
Residents had hoped the home could be turned into a museum or bed and breakfast one day.
RCMP said the cause of the fire is not criminal in nature. It’s believed the fire started in the basement.