A well-known heritage building in the east end of St. John’s was destroyed by fire overnight.
Fire crews responded to Bryn Mawr, also known as Baird’s Cottage, shortly before 3:00 a.m. Friday morning. Mike Hall, Platoon Chief with the St. John’s Regional Fire Department (SJRFD) said they were alerted to the blaze by a passing taxi driver, who noticed smoke coming from the boarded-up structure.
When crews from nearby Kent’s Pond Fire Station arrived at the scene, located at 154 New Cove Road, they were met with heavy fire coming from the vacant building. Given the amount of fire present, crews were forced to take a defensive approach. At times, firefighters could be seen hosing down the roofs of homes across the street, as large flankers filled the sky and fell to the ground below.
Over twenty firefighters from three stations responded to the fire, pouring water onto the blaze in an effort to douse the flames. It took over an hour to bring the fire under control. The building was a complete loss, having been leveled to its foundation.
Baird’s Cottage, built in 1907, has been the subject of a public battle both in and out of the courts in recent years. It was recognized by Heritage Newfoundland and Labrador as a registered heritage structure in 1993, and similarly recognized by the City of St. John’s in 2016. Regulations surrounding its heritage status have halted proposed development of the land, placing the property in limbo. Despite the attempts of several interest groups to safe the building, the 115-year-old home remained abandoned and shuttered.
New Cove Road remained closed for several hours as crews battled the fire and cleared from the scene. An investigation into the cause of the blaze is ongoing.