An early morning fire destroyed one of Sackville’s best-known and most-loved restaurants Friday while leaving four Mount Allison students and a university staff member temporarily homeless.
Joey’s Pizza, Pasta, Bar & Grill had been a fixture on York Street for decades until fire broke out in the Hanson Block that housed it around 9:30 a.m. The students and Mt. A. staffer were tenants in second-storey apartments.
No one was injured in the fire.
The university said about 20 other students living near the area had to leave their apartments because of the smoke and it wasn’t clear when they would be able to return to their homes.
Mt. A. set up an area in its on-campus chapel to accept donations of gift cards, clothing and other necessities for the homeless students and promised to provide free food and accommodation for them as well.
The sister of one of the students set up an online GoFundMe campaign to receive donations for the students.
Firefighters hoisted to roof
Sackville Fire Chief Craig Bowser says the fire started at the rear of the 96-year-old building and the Fire Marshall’s office is investigating its cause.
When firefighters arrived on the scene, they encountered heavy smoke and began fighting the fire in the rear. Around 10 a.m., firefighters were hoisted to the building’s roof as smoke began billowing out of it.
Later as flames became visible and thick smoke blanketed the downtown, about 50 firefighters from Sackville and the surrounding fire departments in Point de Bute, Dorchester, Memramcook and Amherst fought to prevent the fire from spreading.
Chief Bowser says a local contractor was brought in to demolish part of the Joey’s building to contain the fire.
The town closed off streets in the downtown to traffic as fire trucks, with sirens wailing, roared up and down Main Street to Silver Lake for water to supplement downtown hydrants that draw from Sackville’s three wells and its water tower.
Chief Bowser says the system worked well in delivering the required high volumes of water.
He says the fire was out by about 2 p.m. with only a few hot spots remaining.
Sackville’s fire chief says he’s proud of the work that volunteer firefighters performed in fighting today’s fire.
“Kudos to our members,” he says. “All departments worked well together in our mutual aid agreement. We’re very pleased with how it went.”
To read Tantramar Mayor Andrew Black’s eyewitness account of the fire on his Facebook page, click here.
For a history of the Hanson Block and its architectural significance from Tantramar Heritage Trust, click here.