The old Captain Morgan’s Lodge in Genoa Bay is no more following a spectacular fire at the heritage property on Friday, Feb. 24 around 8 p.m.
Recently under renovation after being sold a couple of years ago, new life was being breathed into the old 7,000-square-foot structure.
According to Municipality of North Cowichan fire chief Martin Drakeley, crews from the Maple Bay, Crofton and South End halls were called out about 8:40 p.m., as well as support crews from the City of Duncan and Cowichan Bay fire halls.
The blaze could be seen from the shores of Cowichan Bay.
Permanent residents of Genoa Bay Marina had a front seat to the blaze and reported hearing explosions.
“There were two explosions. The first sounded like fireworks. The second explosion, I looked out and saw the fire,” said Cathy Azzopardi. She added that she called 911 when the fire was small but by the time her call ended, the house was completely ablaze.
“There are no hydrants in our area,” Azzopardi noted. “They did a great job containing the fire as it did not spread to the houses next door.”
No injuries were reported but given the sheer size of the structure, and that it was fully engulfed in flames, fire crews could not save the home, and only attacked the blaze from the outside.
Ezra Kiedaisch works at Genoa Bay Marina, where her dad Ben is the owner.
They raced to the marina from their home roughly 15 minutes away after getting a call from a customer saying he heard small explosions coming from ‘Shirley’s old place’.
“Nothing too huge, but it was going up in flames,” she recounted. “Given the snow, the drive down was a little daunting — to say the least.”
They were calm until they got to a specific spot along Genoa Bay Road where the old house can be spotted over Genoa Bay Farm.
“The house was like a beacon,” she said. “Just seeing that in the distance, my heart stopped. It was completely terrifying. We always have to fear fire down there, especially in the summers, as we don’t have fire hydrants past Maple Bay Marina.”
Kiedaisch said her family was going to offer the firefighters the use of water from their facilities, “but it was so cold our lines were frozen.”
Instead she said the fire crews were pumping water from the last fire hydrant on Genoa Bay Road, in front of the Maple Bay Marina.
“We counted something like five water trucks,” she said. “At one point, actually, a telephone pole next to the house caught on fire too. We were so scared it would spread, but they got it under control pretty quickly.”