2019-09-11

Carriage barn re-build on horizon as community rallies around fire-affected business

by Keith Corcoran

A pair of wagons, along with shoeing tools and thousands of dollars worth of other gear instrumental to a Garden Lots company beloved for horse drawn carriage rides through Lunenburg were destroyed when the barn housing the equipment burned down the afternoon of August 31.

The horses were in another barn on Basil Oickle's Old Blue Rocks Road property, just outside Lunenburg, so the animals were fine. Oickle, who operates Trot in Time Buggy Rides, sustained a small burn to his hand and to the top of his head as he tried in vain to save one of the wagons from the fast-moving blaze.

"It scares me to think what could have happened," Oickle said during a phone chat with LighthouseNOW.

The approximately 12 year-old single story carriage house, measuring seven-by-six metres in size, quickly became a pile of charred debris. An original wagon dating back to 1888 was among the loss. Another casualty in the fire was a car belonging to a Trot in Time worker.

Volunteer firefighters from multiple departments worked the scene but the fire was too far advanced to save anything. The Lunenburg fire department has said publicly the cause of the blaze is considered accidental. Flames were discovered in the barn in an area where Oickle had been using a welder. Just before the fire, he'd stopped work and exited the barn when family showed up for a visit.

"I think the initial shock might be wearing off but the first 48 hours was kind of rough on me," Oickle said of the incident and aftermath.

At one point it appeared Oickle was casting doubt on continuing on the business but the community is rallying around him and a re-build is now on the horizon. Too many people love Trot in Time to close up shop, Oickle said. "I'm so overwhelmed; it's unreal."

Local business leaders have reached out to their comrade. Lunenburg Board of Trade president Tim Lekhi said he spoke to Oickle, whom he described as a hard worker and a compassionate person.

"Its an unfortunate loss," Lekhi told LighthouseNOW of the structure," but the best part is it's only a monetary item and not a loss of life which is the blessing,"

The board of trade posted its support on a social media platform. "Our hearts are with you, Basil."

A GoFundMe page has been set up to provide financial help toward the barn-raising. The link is https://bit.ly/2kiPxnL on the internet.

While he had insurance on other aspects, there wasn't coverage on the carriage barn. Oickle has repeatedly said it was too rich for his pocketbook.

The Atlantic region's Insurance Bureau of Canada vice president suggested businesses shop the market for prices and policies until one fits the need and is within a comfortable price range.

"Insurance is there for when unthinkable events happen," Amanda Dean told LighthouseNOW. "Nobody really wants to purchase insurance, but when something happens it's there to help you get back on your feet afterwards. It's something that all business owners should consider and their level of risk."

Insurers consider many things which factors into what the client pays in the end, she said.

"It's horrible to be having these conversations in the wake of this type of event," Dean added, "but it's also good for other businesses out there to start asking themselves are they covered if something were to happen, do they enough coverage ...."

Meanwhile, Trot in Time continues to operate with two carriages and "we'll try our best and keep those wagons going," Oickle added. "We're going to keep on trucking."

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