2015-11-25

Cyrus Eaton home in Deep Cove reduced to cinders

by Gayle Wilson

  • <p>CONTRIBUTED PHOTO</p><p>The multi-millionaire philanthropist, Cyrus Eaton, purchased land in Deep Cove off Mahone Bay in 1928 and had Andrew Cobb design the home that he used as a summer vacation spot for the following 50 years. The three-storey wooden home burned to the ground on Sunday, with cause of the fire &#8220;officially undetermined.&#8221;</p>

The historical summer home of one of Canada's most famous financiers burned down on Sunday, reduced to a smoldering testament of Cyrus Eaton's Nova Scotia connection.

The estimated 5,000 square-foot, three-storey wooden home in Deep Cove was completely engulfed in flames by the time the Blandford and Area fire department arrived, approximately seven minutes after receiving the call at 8:47 a.m., according to chief Philip Publicover.

"Upon arrival the structure was fully involved. That's from the ground level to the peak," said Publicover. "There was nothing we were going to do to change the outcome at that point. Given the ferocity of the fire and the venting of the propane tanks, crews were directed to not engage. We did not put a drop of water on the fire. We allowed it to burn."

Publicover said the fire was only discovered after someone in the area who was on a bottle drive for a local community group spotted smoke coming from the property. When she approached the grounds' caretaker, Garnet Baxter, she asked if he had a bonfire going on the property. He replied he hadn't, and then noticed a huge column of smoke rising from the area.

Blandford responded to his call with three vehicles, two engines and a support unit. Other fire departments were initially asked to respond, including Hubbards, Chester, Chester Basin and Western Shore, but they were advised to stand down when the extent of the damage became obvious.

The historical home, which was recently on the market for $3 million, was not the only thing to succumb to the fire. The Blandford department's primary responding vehicle went off the road inside the gate of the property.

"Operator error," explained Publicover. "The driver looked at the fire and drove in the direction that he looked, instead of paying attention to the road."

Publicover said that the driver was "one of my members. Trained and licensed for the job ... It had no bearing on the outcome. The tactics would not have changed."

The department only acquired the vehicle last November, at a cost of $550,000, according to Publicover.

"And damage is extensive," said the fire chief the following morning, although he added the exact amount was still being assessed.

The rear mount rescue engine sustained significant underside damage, including broken springs and displaced rear axle.

He told LighthouseNOW that, considering the vehicle was a combination rescue engine, "it has put us in a situation where we're limited in our response capability. Modifications have been made to the existing trucks to accommodate some of our equipment, but not in an efficient manner."

He confirmed that the vehicle is insured. "It can be repaired or replaced."

Fire chief Publicover estimates the fire probably started around 5:00 a.m., and the cause of the fire is "officially undetermined." However, he adds, it's "nothing suspicious."

Originally from Pugwash, Nova Scotia, Cyrus Stephen Eaton, Sr. was a powerful Canadian-American investment banker, businessman and philanthropist.

He criticized the dominance of eastern financiers and was passionate about world peace. An opponent of the United States Cold War policy, he helped organize the first Pugwash Conferences on World Peace, in 1955. Before he passed away in 1979 and the property was sold to German investors, his home in Deep Cove had hosted a variety of celebrities, including Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space.

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