Fire damages P.E.I. shellfish business


A fire Saturday has caused damage to Atlantic Aqua Farms.

A fire has destroyed a building at Atlantic Aqua Farms in Orwell Cove. (Donald McRae)

Fire has damaged the Atlantic Aqua Farms building in Orwell Cove, P.E.I. There were no injuries.

A statement from the the Department of Public Safety said Belfast, Cross Roads and Vernon River fire services responded with support from Charlottetown Fire, Island EMS and RCMP.

‘The investigation is underway and is expected to last a few days,” the statement says.

Atlantic Aqua Farms markets P.E.I. mussels, oysters and clams across North America. 

Donald MacRae, the owner of a trucking and backhoe business, was called at 10 a.m. to provide some excavators.

“There’s a bunch of fire departments here,” MacRae said. “I brought some heavy machinery as well to help fight the fire.”

MacRae said the building was evacuated at the time he arrived.

He said he knew when he saw it that there was little chance the building could be saved.

“It was pretty well engulfed by that time,” he said. “Everybody was out of it and the building was starting to fall. The fire went through it pretty quick.”

The fire was still a going concern as of mid-afternoon, MacRae said.

“Right now, we’re just getting a few hot spots here that’s still burning pretty good,” he said.

A view from a road opposite from the fire scene. (Tony Davis/CBC News)

Loss for the community

MacRae said it big loss for the community.

There’s going to be (about) hundred people out of work,” he said. “And I mean this time of the year, it’s a bad time for anybody to be out of work.”

He hopes the workers who have lost their jobs can be relocated.

People gathered on a nearby road to get a view of the fire. They included Kyle Parlee, who has been working at the business for the last five years.

Parlee didn’t work at the shellfish plant Saturday. He said he is comforted that no one was hurt.

“Everyone is safe,” he said, “I think there was probably about 12 people in today. I am just grateful the people I work with are safe and home with their loved ones.”

Losing a job couldn’t come at a worse time, Parlee said. 

“It’s definitely a big hit, especially around Christmas time. Everything is getting busy. Money is tight,” he said. 

The fire at the building was contained just before 5 p.m. RCMP have reopened Brush Wharf Road in Orwell Cove.

Public Safety says there will be checks later this evening and overnight at the scene.

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