4 minor injuries after massive fire at Niagara winery

Four people have minor injuries after a massive fire at a winery in St. Catharines, according to the local fire chief.

St. Catharines Fire Services (SCFS) tweeted about a large structure fire at the Hernder Estate Winery at 11:37 pm Saturday.

“Avoid this area – do not sightsee – fire operations from multiple departments on scene,” it said on Twitter.

At 2 am Sunday, SCFS said the fire was still burning, bringing in firefighters from Niagara Falls, Thorold, Pelham, West Niagara, West Lincoln and Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Fire chief Dave Upper told CBC Hamilton roughly 63 firefighters were on scene with 21 pieces of equipment to beat the blaze.

“Crews made an absolutely incredible stop to hold that fire to the area of ​​origin of the banquet facility and storefront. And so we lost kind of the front, say, 25 per cent of the facility but we were able to save the other 75 per cent of the facility,” he said in a Sunday morning interview, noting the warehouse and production facilities were spared.

Upper said there were three aerial water towers and firefighters hit the north side of the building with heavy water. They also used ground lines and master streams to prevent the fire from spreading toward the back of the property.

Bryce Brunarski spokesperson with Niagara Emergency Medical Services said a man was taken to hospital for smoke inhalation.

He also said three men had minor injuries but didn’t want to go to hospital after speaking with police and fire services. One of them did eventually drive themselves to hospital, according to Brunarski.

He added the amount of smoke and wind made it hard for paramedics to set up a spot to assess injuries.

Police said in a media release the Ministry of Labor has been notified.

Upper said the Office of the Fire Marshal won’t be attending the scene and police have closed off nearby roads as firefighters are still dealing with hotspots and sorting through the damage.

It’s unclear what caused the fire and how much the damage will cost.

Fire is ‘devastating loss’ for community

Upper said there was a craft show at the venue this weekend.

Brittny Mio is a volunteer with The Mom Market Collective, which was hosting that show Saturday. It planned to continue Sunday.

She said roughly 50 vendors participated and while Saturday was joyful, Sunday is somber.

“It’s not even just the products that are gone in the fire, it’s all the time and months they spent making all those products,” Mio said.

“They’ve lost everything.”

She said there’s a GoFundMe page to support the vendors. Mio is hoping for $500 per vendor.

St. Catharines mayor Walter Sendzik wrote about the fire Sunday morning on social media, calling this a “significant loss” for the community, despite the entire winery not being destroyed.

“Our thoughts are [with] the Hernder family today (Fred, Chris & Angel and their family and employees) with the devastating loss of the iconic buildings at Hernder Estate Winery,” he wrote on Facebook.

“It has been home to so many weddings and events over the years. Hernder is one of Niagara’s oldest wineries – a pioneer in the grape and wine industry in so many ways.”

St. Catharines coun. Lori Littleton also tweeted her thoughts are with the family.

“This is a devastating loss for our community. I was married there along with countless others.”

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