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Cause of Green Gables Post Office fire under investigation

Plywood covers a portion of the blackened Green Gables Post Office roof. A fire began at the post office around 4:30pm Monday.
Plywood covers a portion of the blackened Green Gables Post Office roof. A fire began at the post office around 4:30pm Monday. - Tony Davis

CAVENDISH, P.E.I. - Yellow police tape isn’t what visitors would expect to see at an iconic building in Lucy Maud Montgomery’s world, but Tuesday morning that caution tape offset the white and green local post office.

New Glasgow Fire Chief Jason Peters told reporters the fire began at around 4:30 p.m. Monday. The building was modelled after Montgomery's white house with green trim and a red door and contains a small museum that details her time as an assistant postmaster in the area. The site houses a Canada Post office that operates from May to October.

Firefighters were quickly able to contain the fire, but there was some damage to the roof of the post office, Peters said.

Jamil Dow is used to looking at the Green Gables Post Office. He grew up in Charlottetown but has worked on the North Shore most of his life. Now, he runs a shop directly across the street that sells clothing and souvenirs called Island Style.

“When it happened, there were clients in the shop. I didn’t notice the fire till I heard sirens,” Dow said.

When he looked out from his storefront he noticed smoke coming up from the back of the building and then he saw fire.

“Flames shot out from the top of the building about three to four feet high,” he said.

Dow was worried about workers inside the building but saw two women who work at the Canada Post site outside the building observing from a safe distance, he said.

“I highly commend the fire stations that responded. They came at top speed, and there was a sense of urgency.”

Monday night Dow walked around the building where plywood covered areas of the post office roof and notied there was a black burn mark on the roof where the fire was most intense.

He is optimistic about the post office returning to operation.

“It looks like they will be able to get it open again, thank God,” he said.

Near the post office is the Macneill Homestead, where Montgomery was brought up, beginning in 1876.

Keara Bryanton, who works there, said people often ask about the post office.

“People who visit always ask what the building is about.”

The post office was put there to pay homage to Montgomery who had a post office run out of her childhood home, Bryanton said.

John Ross Macneill, a member of the Macneill family and a worker at the historic site, is happy the post office wasn’t destroyed.

“It is kind of another access point to this site,” he said.

Sites related to Montgomery and her fictional “Anne of Green Gables” bring thousands of tourists each year to Cavendish businesses.

The white building with green trim often catches the eyes of tourists who stop into the Green Gables Post Office and ask questions.

“A lot of people are directed over here from there. They walk the same path that Montgomery walked to church.”

This isn’t the first time a location associated with Montgomery has burned. On May 23, 1997, an electrical fire damaged Green Gables house.

At the Green Gables Post Office, construction workers were continuing to work on renovations to the building.

In an email, the P.E.I. Fire Marshal’s Office said the cause of the fire at the Green Gables Post Office is still being investigated.

(With files from the Canadian Press)

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