Firefighters from several departments tackled a massive commercial fire at 8985 Commercial Street on March 19 in New Minas.
The structure fire was reported around 2:30 p.m. at the commercial building next to neighbouring Milne Court Petro-Canada service station, where firefighters were stationed to contain and extinguish the nearby fire.
Plumes of thick, black smoke were visible throughout New Minas as the flames could be seen shooting through parts of the roof.
Sam Milne was on the scene as the massive fire burned through his family’s former Milne’s Garage Ltd business.
The building where the fire broke out housed businesses including Funtastic Frenchy’s and a cannabis dispensary.
It previously housed the business founded by Milne’s father, L.S. Milne, where four generations of the family worked before it was sold in 2000.
Sam Milne, 90, managed the business’ service station and is also a retired member of the New Minas Volunteer Fire Department. He arrived at the scene just minutes after the fire call came through.
“I’m not sure if I was born over there,” he joked, describing how long the building and business it housed were part of his life. “But I live right over here, so – it’s just something.”
New Minas fire chief Jim Redmond confirmed the department received the call at 2:39 p.m. and that the building was fully involved with “fire shooting out of its roof” when crews arrived at the scene minutes later.
He said firefighters worked to keep water on the flames and save the building “as best they could” to limit exposure to nearby buildings. Mutual aid was provided by Kentville, Wolfville, Port Williams and Greenwich departments.
“We worked with our mutual aid to fight this, and to get the decks going. We had huge exposure risk but were able to control that,” said Redmond.
Sam Milne’s daughter Mimi Milne Dodge was also at the scene alongside family members including Duncan Milne and his wife Ellen Lewis-Milne.
They said the section where the fire burned strongest was the last remaining original piece of their family business, and housed the Milne repair shop on the first floor, and its main office on the second.
Dodge estimated this section was built onto the existing building in the 1940s.
The Milne Court service station remains owned and operated by Milne family member Scott Fraser.
Duncan Milne recalled working in the building as a teenager alongside other family members like his father, who worked there for 37 years, and grandfather, who worked at the business even longer.
“It’s a sad day for all of us,” said Lewis-Milne.
As of 5:45 p.m., crews remained on the scene fighting the blaze which remained classified as active. Redmond said no one was injured as a result of the fire, and no one was inside the building when fire broke out.
He said the fire is among the worst he’s ever seen as New Minas fire chief.
“I’ve been fire chief here for 24 years, and I’ve never seen one happen this quickly,” he said. “We’ll be sitting on this for a while and checking up regularly as the night goes.”