Damien Normore was en route to pick up his camper, visions of summer trips dancing in his head, when he got the word he may as well turn around.
His camper, along with plenty of other gear, had gone up in smoke.
Normore and his wife Amanda had left there Churchill Falls home on May 17, with plans to drive to their hometown of L'Anse-au-Loup to get their camper out of storage from the facility in nearby Point Amour, located just minutes away. They stopped at Happy Valley-Goose Bay for the night, with plans to continue the trip the next day.
Instead, firefighters were called to the storage facility on May 18 around 9:15 a.m., and the Normores had to drive home without the camper they planned to use for summer travel.
“It’s pretty — what’s the word — shitty, but that’s not the right word,” Normore said when asked how it felt to receive the news.
“Disappointing, really disappointing. We were on the way to get it and planning on using it.”
According to an RCMP press release, when firefighters from Forteau and L'Anse-au-Loup responded to the fire, the former arena “… was fully engulfed upon arrival of emergency personnel, with extensive damage to all property inside.”
There were no reported injuries during the fire.
The storage facility in Point Amour is referred to as the “old arena” and is used by people in the Labrador Straits to store a variety of equipment, including boats, campers, recreational vehicles, and other valuable items throughout the year. Many people grew up playing sports inside that old arena, including Normore.
“That was a long time ago; I wasn’t very old then…I started playing minor hockey up there then, I was only five or six years old,” he recalled.
The news about the arena fire was so surprising, he added, because, to his knowledge, there was no electricity in the building at the time.
“There was no hydro hook-up or nothing there,” said Normore. “That’s why we were surprised it was on fire.”
In an email, RCMP Cpl. Rick Mills confirmed that there “was no power to the building at the time of the fire.”
The RCMP has not yet determined whether or the fire was deliberately set, as the incident is still being actively investigated. In the news release, Mills asked the public to report “… any suspicious activity that may have been observed around the "old arena" at Point Armour during the evening of May 17 or early morning of May 18, 2019.”
Normore estimates his 2009 camper was worth $15,000. About $5,000 of additional gear was housed inside of it, including a barbeque and a generator. He does have insurance on the camper and is hoping everything will be covered by the insurance company.
He wasn’t the only person in his immediate family to lose something valuable. His father, Morley Normore, lost a boat, motor, and trailer when the old arena went up in flames.
“I paid $40,000 for it three years ago and put a good many dollars worth on her since that, so she’s still valued between $35,000 and $40,000,” said Morley Normore.
Like his son, Morley thought his belongings would be safe in the old arena because there was no electrical power running through the building.
“I’m absolutely devastated; I thought nothing would ever happen to anything in that building,” he said.
Unfortunately, Morley did not have insurance on the property that was destroyed, so he’s hoping that, maybe, he will be covered on any insurance the building might have had.
Attempts to reach the owner of the old arena for an interview were unsuccessful.