Fire destroys New Edinburgh lobster pound days before season opens

RCMP are investigating after a fire destroyed another lobster pound in Nova Scotia just days before lobster season in the area opens on Tuesday.

Staff Sgt. Marc Rose said the 911 call came in shortly after 10 p.m. Thursday that the fish plant on Riverside Road in New Edinburgh, N.S., was on fire.

He said flames could be seen from a “great distance away.”

“It was a large, large fire and they fought it into the next day and right now the scene is being guarded for further investigation,” Rose said.

Multiple fire stations responded to the fire. (Submitted)

RCMP said firefighters extinguished the fire shortly before 3 a.m. Friday. 

The same lobster plant was vandalized in 2020 when several hundred commercial fishermen and their supporters raided two facilities where Mi’kmaw fishermen were storing their catches. A van was destroyed and people were charged. 

“We were relieved to hear it was empty during the fire,” Sipekne’katik Chief Mike Sack said in a statement Friday, noting his community is not currently affiliated with the New Edinburgh plant.

Heavy smoke and burning embers forced the temporary evacuation of nearby homes. (Submitted)

“It is always unfortunate when property damage occurs particularly this close to the season and the holidays. Our thoughts are with everyone affected.”

The owner of the pound was later charged for making false statements to fisheries inspectors, and fined $20,000 for failing to disclose lobster sales.

Rose said he was unable to say whether Thursday’s fire is suspicious but it’s under investigation.

Amid tensions surrounding the First Nations lobster harvest in southwest Nova Scotia last fall, a lobster pound in Middle West Pubnico was destroyed in a suspicious fire. One man was arrested and charged nine months later.

Multiple RCMP detachments responded to the call Thursday night, as well as several volunteer fire departments. Police evacuated nearby homes because of the smoke in the air and embers jumping across the road.

RCMP say no one was injured in the fire.

A burned out shell was all that remained of the plant on Friday. (David Laughlin/CBC)

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