MIDDLETON - A massive pile of debris from a fire that destroyed a warehouse on School Street in Middleton Nov. 20 has been cleaned up.
While it may have been unsightly for almost two months, the Town of Middleton’s CAO Rachel Turner said cleaning it up was more of a safety issue.
“Under the Dangerous or Unsightly Premises Act within the Municipal Government Act, the town has the authority … to go in and take action.”
The wooden warehouse was 120 years old when it burned, and at one time was home to the Black Printing Company which published The Outlook and Mirror newspapers. It was an outlet for Leons Furniture and recently owned by Deal N Deal Liquidators of New Minas.
Turner said the town did notify the owner to clean up the property.
“Within the time frame that we were looking to have it cleaned up the action didn’t take place, so we were able to go and just take care of that to make sure that it wasn’t a safety concern for the residents and anybody in that area,” Turner said.
She said the town got two or three quotes from various companies and also looked at doing it in-house.
“It was just better to out-source it and have it done,” she said. “Everybody seems to be happy with the work that’s been done.”
She said the company was responsible for disposing of the debris properly and if there were any hazardous materials they were to notify her.
“I haven’t had a final report from them and no notification of hazardous materials,” she said. “The costs will go as a lien against the property. It’s sort of like a tax so the town hopefully won’t be on the hook for covering that cost. That’s how that legislation piece works.”
The pile of rubble left after the fire consisted of furniture and boxes of merchandise owned by Deal N Deal, and other items.
According to information supplied by Macdonald Museum in Middleton, the structure was built by S.F. & W.E. Roop Company for Fred Cox who used it originally as a printing office and for other offices from 1896 to 1920.The second owner from 1920 to 1930 was Eugene Phinney, a farmer. Percy E. Black owned the building from 1930 to 1952, and from 1952 to 1981 it was owned by Black Printing Company. In 1981 it was owned by the Federal Business Development Bank and then Andrews Department Store.
“Fred E. Cox, a native of Avonport, was publisher and editor of the newspaper ‘The Outlook,’" say notes with the museum material. “He was also one of Middleton’s postmasters and its 11th mayor.”
Historical notes also suggest that the building may have been used as a temperance hall at one time.
Dozens of firefighters from across the Annapolis Valley helped fight the blaze Nov. 20. The cause of the fire has not been determined although many in the town consider it suspicious.
“It’s really good to have that cleaned up,” said Turner Friday as about 20 centimetres of snow fell on the town.