GRAVENHURST — A half-million-dollar fire late Wednesday afternoon has destroyed a cottage on the Severn River in southwest Gravenhurst.

Fire officials say the massive blaze happened just before 5:30 p.m. on July 10.

More than a dozen people were quick to call 911 and report the fire on Flanagan Trail, a small cottage road near Morrison Lake.

Firefighters from all three fire stations rushed to the scene and found fire from the huge blaze spreading along the ground cover toward a series of bunkies and storage sheds. Though the cottage could not be saved, firefighters managed to keep the fire from spreading further to these other buildings.

Firefighters expressed thanks to some nearby cottagers who went to the property in an attempt to extinguish the fire using portable fire extinguisher, but the fire was simply too far advanced at that point for these to be effective.

Flames leap into the air from a massive fire July 10 that destroyed this cottage on the Severn River southwest of Gravenhurst. (Gravenhurst Fire photo)

“This fire underscores the critical importance of prevention, especially for those properties that are remotely located,” said Fire Chief Larry Brassard in a release Wednesday.

He urged all cottage owners to invest some time in making sure their cottages are “fire safe,” by ensuring electrical components are up to current standards, that flammable liquids and gases are properly stored and by undertaking sound cooking practices.

“Once it starts, a fire in a cottage can double in size every minute it goes undetected or where there is no intervention, and when that property is located far from first responder resources, the results are often predictable, unfortunately.”

The property owner attended the scene later in the evening to speak with the fire department’s incident Commander.

The investigation into the cause of the fire is still underway, however it is not considered suspicious at this time.

The damage to the property, which is reportedly insured, is estimated at $500,00.00. Approximately 35 firefighters were at the fire at its height, the last ones leaving just before midnight.

The chief offered these additional fire safety tips:

  • Test smoke alarms at least monthly or each time you return to the cottage. Pack a new smoke alarm and extra smoke alarm batteries in case they need replacement.
  • Install and ensure carbon monoxide alarms in your cottage if it has a fuel-burning appliance.
  • Develop and practice a home fire escape plan to ensure everyone knows what to do if the smoke alarm sounds.
  • Know your cottage’s emergency sign number, in case of emergency.
  • Clean barbecues before using them. Keep an eye on lit barbecues and ensure all combustibles, as well as children and pets are kept well away from them. Fires can happen when barbecues are left unattended.
  • Keep barbecue lighters and matches out of sight and reach of children.
  • Check heating appliances and chimneys before using them.
  • Open air burning is prohibited during daylight hours. If burning during the evening, fires should be built on bare soil or on exposed rock. Remove leaves and twigs from around the fire to keep it from spreading.
  • Always keep a bucket of water, sand, or even a shovel close by and supervise the fire at all times.
  • If you must smoke, do so outside. Keep a large can with water nearby so cigarette butts can be safely discarded. If you drink, do so responsibly. Tobacco use and excessive alcohol consumption are contributing factors in many fires and can lead to serious injuries.
  • Burn candles in sturdy candleholders that will not tip and are covered with a glass shade. When you go out, blow out.