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Flames tear through greenhouse nursery in Simcoe

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A greenhouse nursery in Simcoe, Ont. was almost completely destroyed in a fire early Thursday morning.

Firefighters were called to Ryerse Garden Gallery around 4:30 a.m.

“The fire was actually first noticed by a paramedic crew that was driving by,” explained James Robertson, the assistant chief for the Norfolk Fire Department.

According to officials, the response from firefighters almost came too late.

Fire damage at Ryerse Garden Gallery in Simcoe on June 20, 2024. (Jeff Pickel/CTV News)

“[It was a] very large fire,” Robertson said. “Heavy flames were coming from the front of the building and the south end of the building. The flames were so intense we actually had to evacuate to a neighbour just as a precaution.”

He added that the emergency response was significant.

“We had five station from Norfolk County, comprising of about 40 firefighters and a dozen fire trucks. It took firefighters approximately two hours to get the blaze under control and another two hours before it was out.”

The building was almost entirely destroyed, but crews were able to save part of the nursery.

The part of Ryerse Garden Gallery that was saved from flames on June 20, 2024. (Jeff Pickel/CTV News)

“These guys are a well-oiled machine,” Robertson said. “They’re volunteers, we know that, but they’ve got good quality equipment. They’ve got a lot of dedicated individuals.”

Dave Rusling, Ryerse Garden Gallery’s owner, said his first priority is looking after his employees.

“Some of them are 20 or 30 years with me.
Despite the significant damage, he wants to reopen the nursery as soon as possible.

“We’re hoping that we get ourselves up and running, in some way, reasonably fast.”

Ryerse Garden Gallery after a fire on June 20, 2024. (Jeff Pickel/CTV News)

Tanya Van Rooy witnessed the firefighting effort on Thursday morning.

“It was really intense. Then, as it got closer, there were hand-sized pieces of soot on the sidewalk.”

Crews respond to a structure fire on Norfolk Street North in Norfolk County. June 20, 2024. (Source: OPP)

Van Rooy, a professional filmmaker, wanted to capture the efforts to save a popular local business.

“People from the community are certainly concerns and love Ryerse,” she told CTV News. “I thought, I’ll get some good footage of it.”

The Ontario Fire Marshall surveys the damage at Ryerse Garden Gallery in Simcoe on June 20, 2024. (Jeff Pickel/CTV News)

No one was hurt in the fire.

The Ontario Marshall has been called in to investigate the cause of the blaze.

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